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Loren: Mar ‘KILLED’ Cheaper Medicines Law

February 23, 2010

DAVAO CITY – NACIONALISTA VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE LOREN LEGARDA TODAY SCORED LP BET MAR ROXAS FOR CREDIT-GRABBING THE CHEAPER MEDICINES LAW WHEN IN FACT IT WAS ROXAS WHO “PROPOSED AMENDMENTS IN THE SENATE COMMITTEE REPORT INTO SUCH A WAY THAT ITS ORIGINAL INTENTION TO EASE CONSUMERS OF THE RISING COST OF MEDICINES WAS NOT FULFILLED.”
“Sabi sa mga TV commercial ng ibang pulitiko dyan, mura na ang gamot. Pero ang mga nakakasalamuha ko sa kampanya, nagrereklamo sa akin na ang mahal ng mga gamot. Imbes na tuition fee ng mga anak nila ang ihihingi ng tulong sa akin, reseta ng mga gamot ang dinadala nila sa akin (Other politicians’ TV ads herald cheaper medicines. But in my meetings with different communities, they still complain of the rising cost of medicines. Instead of asking for financial aid for their children’s education, they bring me medical prescriptions),” Loren said.
In July 2009, authors of the Cheaper Medicines Act in the House or Representatives urged Roxas to support the move to reinstate provisions on automatic price regulation. “Authors of the Act in the House noted that Roxas vehemently opposed the automatic price regulation, which is the ‘heart and soul’ of the House version because it could have reduced the prices of more or less 1,600 medicines by at least 50 percent,” Loren said in response to a question by members of the audience after her speech.
“Mar’s amendments on the Cheaper Medicines Act killed the spirit of that law, and instead set a limit to its mandate in regulating pharmaceutical companies’ pricing practices,” Loren stressed.
Loren cited Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and former Iloilo representative and now Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico as having said Roxas “must realize that such provision is key to bringing down the country’s prices of medicines and not his previous proposal to exempt the importation of drugs and medical equipment from the 12% VAT and other duties.” As a physician, Garin said this proposition of Roxas was contradictory to their suggestion to create a Drug Price Regulatory Board to regulate the prices of medicines.
The Department of Finance also shot down Roxas’ proposal under Senate Bill (SB) 3128, citing an estimated annual revenue loss of P5.57 billion. SB 3128 seeks to exempt the sale and importation of drugs, medicines, pharmaceutical products and related raw materials, and medical, dental, and hospital equipment and instruments from VAT and tariff and import duties.
“12% is nothing compared to the more than 50 percent reduction in prices of medicines if we adopt the original version we filed,” Loren said, citing quotes members of the House who urged Roxas to amend his insertions to the bill. The National Tax Research Center (NTRC) also pointed out that Roxas’ proposal would not be a surefire formula to lower the prices of medicines and other pharmaceutical products.
“With Mar’s contentions on this law, the government could lose P792.53 million in duties and taxes and another P4.778 billion from VAT slapped on imported pharmaceutical products and equipment brought in yearly. The NTRC also said that from VAT on drugs and medicines alone, the revenue loss would be P2.883 billion annually while the VAT take from the pharmaceutical industry is valued at P1.894 billion for a total VAT loss of P4.77 billion,” Loren explained.