Two committees of the House of Representatives, alarmed by the runaway prices of medicines manufactured by multinational drug companies in the Philippines, have fasttracked deliberations on bills aimed at lowering the cost of pharmaceutical products in the country.

By Guil Franco (Our Correspondent)

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Published: Fri 7 Apr 2006, 2:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:23 PM

Members of the committee on trade and industry headed by Rep. Junie Cua (Quirino) and the committee on health led by Antonio Yapha Jr. (Cebu City) reacted to published reports that the government, through the state-owned Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), is being prevented by a multinational drug company from importing cheap, but quality medicines.

The congressmen pushed state intervention through the enactment of a law that would regulate, if not lower, the prices of drugs in the local market.

Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. (South Cotabato) cited studies conducted by the National Drug Policy Programme of the Department of Health (NDPP-DoH) and research by non-government organisations (NGOs) showing that prices of drugs and pharmaceutical products in the Philippines are highest in the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.

The two House panels are discussing three bills aimed at lowering the cost of medicines, among them, House Bill 499 authored by Pingoy, which seeks to shorten the patent of pharmaceutical products from 20 to 10 years.

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