Press Release
May 16, 2017

Zubiri to push for regulation of drug prices
Meds for breast cancer, Hepa C will be included

Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said he "is seriously considering amending the Quality and Affordable Medicines Act with the creation of a Drug Price Regulatory Board to reduce prices of drugs in the country which has one of the highest prices in the world".

"Our direct experiences show how medicines are generally out of reach of the ordinary citizens. Imagine millions of poor Filipinos foregoing treatment because they cannot buy the drugs." Senator Zubiri co-chairs the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Quality Affordable Medicines.

"We cannot continue with business-as-usual. We should regulate prices. There is just no other way about it, if we want to make drugs affordable. We shall regulate prices, in addition to aggressive government importation, pooling of purchases of small drugstores to avail of discounts, and stocking rural health centers with low-cost drugs," Zubiri explained.

"The Committee will seriously look into the opportunity to buy low-cost drugs from China, India and Singapore. We will also ensure that we get the expanded list of drugs to be covered by the Maximum Drug Retail Price (MRDP) program."

Zubiri recommended, and to which Dept. of Health Sec. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial agreed, to adopt the list of medicines proposed by patient groups, for the following: for cancer, end-stage renal disease, biologics for psoriasis & lupus, vaccines for pneumococcal & flu, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, asthma & COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

With personal testimonies of Senate employee Realyn Garces (breast cancer stage 2-A) and actor Derek Dee (Hepatitis C), Senator Zubiri recommended the addition of drugs for breast cancer and Hepatitis C.

"We shall get the expanded list by July 27 this year and the Oversight Committee will strictly monitor the implementation of MDRP Phase 2," Zubiri stressed.

Sen. Zubiri was one of the original authors of Republic Act No. 9502 or the Quality and Affordable Medicines Act. "Our original bills recommended the creation of the Drug Price Regulatory Board. It disappeared in the final version. Now, it will be back in the amendments we will consider."

"For medicines, the free market competition doesn't work for the welfare of the people. Free competition can work for luxuries, but, it has no place for drugs which is a life and death issue. Especially for the poor who can't buy medicines despite PhilHealth, guarantee letters in government hospitals and limited free drugs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development."

The Committee meets once every quarter, but will consider more meetings as needed and demanded by consumers and patient groups, Sen. Zubiri said.

Major drugstore chains, the Dept. Of Trade & Industry, Food and Drug Administration, Pharmazone-Philippine International Trading Corp., Intellectual Property Office and the Board of Investments also participated in the hearing.

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