cheap meds – gma vs. mar

ano ba talaga?   kahapon ito ang balita:  Arroyo to sign cheap meds EO

MANILA, Philippines-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will finally sign next week the executive order placing a price ceiling on 22 essential drugs sold in the country.

Malacañang made the announcement Tuesday amid allegations that Pfizer Phil. had tried to bribe the President with some P100 million worth of discount cards for distribution to indigent patients around the country.

pero today iba na:  Palace backtracks on issuing cheap meds EO!

Malacañang on Wednesday said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would first take into account keeping foreign investors and ensuring public access to cheaper drugs before ordering a price ceiling for essential medicines.

“Theimplications for economic health go beyond just the issue of cheaper medicines at hand,” Gary Olivar, deputy presidential spokesperson, told reporters Wednesday.

The Palace was apparently backtracking on its tough position on Tuesday that Ms Arroyo was set to sign the executive order imposing maximum retail prices (MRP) by next week.

ano ba ‘yan?   what implications for “economic health”???    it won’t be healthy for the economy if the president signs the e.o. because it might drive away foreign investors, such as multinational drug companies who are making a killing, selling us meds at three times the price in other countries???    come on!   does she really think these drug companies will stop selling us their drugs if she signs the e.o.?    in the end, they will settle for a small cut in profits dahil hefty pa rin surely, than no profits at all.

so why really is gloria making urong-sulong when signing the e.o. would be very good if not for the books then for her public image and approval rating, lalo na’t swak ang timing for the SONA?   aha.   kung si ellen tordesillas ang tatanungin, it’s pure and simple inggit.   inggit si gloria kay senator mar roxas because roxas, who steered the law through congress, will get the credit for it and might even get elected president in 2010 because of it.

Ang ugat ng kontrobersya sa executive order na magpapatupad ng Maximum Retail Price (MRP) na nakasaad sa 2008 Cheaper Medicines Act ay inggit. Inggit ni Gloria Arroyo na makalamang si Senador Mar Roxas sa isyung ito.

Sabi ng isang source namin sa Malacañang inis raw si Arroyo na ang pipirmahan niyang executive order ay magagamit ni Roxas sa kanyang kampanya para presidente sa 2010. Kaya pinulong niya ang mga hepe ng pharmaceuticals nuong Hulyo 8 at sinabing ibaba nila ang presyon ng 50 na gamot para siya ang sikat at masasabi niya na mas magaling siya kasi 22 lang ang gamot na nasa listahan ng MRP.

Ang kapalit siyempre ng kooperasyon ng mga pharmaceutical firms ay hindi pipirmahan ang MRP.

hm, naisip ko rin yan, but not in terms of inggit, rather of just not doing the presidentiable senator any favors. i’m still hoping that gma would could be big enough to allow credit where credit is due, never mind the politics of it.   after all cheaper meds would mean more money to spend, more money going around, for other essential goods and services, which would be very good for the economy’s ever failing health di ba?

as for the criticism laid at mar roxas’ door that the power to implement the cheaper meds law should have been given not to the president but to a price regulatory board, hmm, i tend to agree with mar:

(mar) said it is difficult to pinpoint responsibility in a board that he predicted to be the dumping ground of “election losers and relatives of powerful politicians…”

sa totoo lang, i like it that the cheaper meds law puts the president on a spot.   it’s time she showed some real statesmanship.   something we can remember her fondly for, unlike the “hello garci” tapes, and the infamous if unfortunate boob job (ang dagdag ang dagdag)!


  1. Hi Angela,
    When you have a price ceiling, and the seller can choose the quantity he sells at that price, you can have a classic shortage. People will have to line up to buy, which you see in the case of NFA rice. Of course, the poor will likely prefer to line up than to pay the high price, and the rich will pay the poor to line up for them. But some — both rich and poor — will do without, not because the price is high, but because there is no more to be had. Perhaps a significant part of the problem can be solved if the generics market were more developed. In other words, you can solve the “high price” problem somewhat by bringing in more competition.

  2. @Orlando, I agree. Hindi ako pabor sa government mandated price ceiling. Let the market dictate the price. Kaso naman, wala ngang kalaban ang mga higante sa industriya, kaya nakakadikta sila ng presyo nila.

    Importante sa palagay ko ang pagpapalaganap ng kaalaman tungkol sa generics, dahil mahalaga ang magiging papel nito upang bumaba ang presyo ng mga branded na gamot. At kung maari, hindi ako aware kung merong batas na ganito, ay gawing compulsary ang paglalagay ng generic name ng mga gamot sa mga resetang ibinibigay ng mga doktor at ang kaungkupang paliwanag tungkol sa generics upang magkaroon ng idea ang mga pasyente o mamimili na meron silang choice.

  3. @ orlando ;) umm comparable ba talaga ang rice situation sa meds situation? ang rice limited talaga ang supply dahil affected by variable climate etc. pero ang meds, would pfizer actually manufacture less meds or make available less meds so that we will suffer a lack of supply? bad business yon di ba. would they really go so far?

  4. @ jun ;) tama ka, ang problema dito sa atin (dito lang sa atin, take note) ay walang competition ang higanteng multinational drug co.s. bakit kaya. bakit kahit kelan kahit aling administrasyon mula independence ay walang pondo parati for the research and development needed for us to have our own drug industry, lalo na’t mayaman tayo sa mga halamang gamot na mabisa. bakit bakit bakit? kasi malamang me lagayan blues hanggang sa kaitaastaasan.

  5. To Angela: Rice and generics are reasonably comparable, and the fact of lines and shortages will likely still be there even if the good is one subject to a (legal) monopoly. As to medicines still under patent, we do have a duty to respect intellectual property laws, though there are ways to “bend” them a little in favor of poor countries (witness how India does it). It is a matter of negotiation to some extent. Furthermore, many of the life-saving drugs are already off-patent and can be had as generics. But fundamentally, we have wonder drugs because someone took time and effort to gamble in the inventing process, and the patent laws grant a temporary monopoly to ensure that such innovation take place.

  6. To Angela: Is it good business to “cause” a shortage? Maybe not. But so long as we rely on a market but want to regulate it, we can control either the price or the quantity to be sold but not both. If we controlled both, that would be confiscation.

  7. panalong panalo na sila sa pagsugal sa wonder drugs na yan. ang tagal na nilang tumatabo. puwede namang bawasan ang patong nila na napakalaki. moderate the greed. kahit bawasan ng 50% ang patong dito sa atin, winner pa rin sila. dapat ito na mismo ang CSR gimik nila, para tumbok talaga ang pangangailangan ng taongbayan.

  8. But it’s a gamble. For every Lipitor, there are so many others that didn’t work out. This means there are other manufacturers who didn’t do well at all. It’s a tough choice: Do you want the small chance that there could be a wonder drug that makes tons of money to the lucky inventor, and saves your life? Or do you want to have no wonder drugs because you don’t want a few to make big bucks. I sometimes think Filipinos prefer the latter. It’s like a home-grown schadenfreude. But I hope I’m wrong. Btw, you hit on CSR as a gimmick. Personally, I suspect it’s a hoax.

  9. In a nutshell, it is a question of good or bad faith. If CSR is just “cover” for a cartel or an illegal monopoly, then it is a hoax against the consumer. But it can also be a hoax against the stockholders. The duty of a corporation is to earn a return on the capital invested, and not to engage in “public relations” for the corporate officers and principals.

  10. but isn’t it that the rationale for CSR is the reality that returns on capital investment is so outrageously large scandalously unfairly huge nga, so talaga naman, they have to find ways have to be found to give back to society, or they might not go to heaven. ;)