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Drugs still out of reach of poor, despite Cheaper Medicines Law – Loren

February 20, 2010

THE CHEAPER MEDICINES LAW IS JUST A PIECE OF USELESS PAPER, AT LEAST FOR THE POOR FOR WHOM IT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN ENACTED.
Nacionalista Party vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda saw this for herself during her campaign trip to Cebu on Friday.
“I talked to Emilia Pumawan at the Carbon Market in Cebu City,” Legarda recalled on her return to Manila on Saturday from her Visayas campaign with running mate Manny Villar. “She’s 76 and said: ‘Hindi totoo ang commercial (sa TV). Hindi namin maramdaman ang epekto nung batas. Mataas pa rin presyo ng gamot (What we see on TV commercials isn’t true. We don’t feel the effect of the law. The prices of drugs are still high.),” Legarda related on her return to Manila on Saturday.
Clarissa, a member of the Carbon Market Vendors’ Association, agreed, pointing out that drugs for diseases that commonly plague Filipinos, like diabetes and hypertension, were still beyond the reach of the poor. Even a popular anti-diarrheal drug proved expensive.
Legarda assured the vendors that at least they could look forward to the benefits of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, of which she was the principal author.
The law, signed recently by President Gloria Arroyo, will effectively give the full 20-percent discount on basic goods and services – including drugs and medical services – to those aged 60 and above with their exemption from the Expanded Value Added Tax.
“This law is my tribute to Filipino senior citizens who have been and continue to be part of building our nation,” she said. “It is a time-honored Filipino practice to take care of the elderly in their twilight years because our generation owes a lot to them and their hard work. That is the spirit behind this legislation.”
Loren further called for the immediate formulation of the law’s implementing rules and regulations and a thorough dissemination of its provisions at the local government level so that it can be implemented at the soonest time and without any confusion.