By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Calls to investigate the prevalence of fake medicines and drugs in the country have snowballed in the House of Representatives.
Ang Probinsyano partylist Rep. Alfred Delos Santos joined Deputy Speaker and Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez in pushing for a House probe on the proliferation of counterfeit medicines.
“The looming proliferation of counterfeit medicines is a danger to public health and safety especially to Filipinos who live in the provinces and opt to buy cheaper medicines in the market,” he said.
Like Fernandez, Delos Santos expressed serious concern over the 2019 report made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showing that the Philippines, among the Southeast Asian countries, has the highest incidence of counterfeit medicine proliferation.
In its report titled “Transnational Organized Crime in Southeast Asia: Evolution, Growth and Impact”, the UNODC said the Philippines has become a “hotspot” for fake medicines.
“Addressing the problem would require the coordinated efforts from various agencies from all over government to sufficiently address and halt the supply chain of counterfeit medicines, ” Delos Santos said.
“Piecemeal administrative issuances may not adequately address this societal problem,” he pointed out.
Delos Santos filed House Resolution No. 253 to seek a congressional probe on the alarming report showing that the Philippines has the highest incidence of fake medicines in Southeast Asia.
“Among the medicines cited to be frequently counterfeited range from medicines for sensitive complications such as those affecting the urinary tract and central nervous systen, to over-the-counter drugs such as paracetamol, anti-tuberculosis medicines and anti-rabies vaccines which see a higher frequency of use, ” he noted.
Under HB 253, the partylist lawmaker cited the participation of all relevant agencies in the House investigation “in order to create a stable and holistic legal framework to effectively address the massive problem of counterfeit drugs.”
“It is the mandate of the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them, ” Delos Santos said.
Fernandez earlier filed House Resolution No. 220, urging the House Committees on Health and Good Government and Public Accountability to look into the report that depicted the country as a hotspot for knockoff drugs.
Citing the report, the House leader said from 2014 to 2017, fake medicines mostly from Pakistan, India, and China entered the Philippines on illicit trade network.
“Trade in fake medicines was and is a large swindle of the harshest kind, as the victims are of the hopes that they are taking genuine medicines that will cure them,” he said.
“The large amounts of money spent by Filipinos yearly for medicines and pharmaceutical preparations should encourage the government to protect their health, safety, and above all, money,” Fernandez said.