With 197 voting in the affirmative and zero negative and abstentions, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the bill that would authorize the stockpiling of strategic and critical drugs and other medical devices to address public health emergencies such as the on-going 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
House Bill 9456, otherwise known as the Health Procurement and Stockpiling Act is one of the legislative priorities of the Lower House led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Passage of the House measure has been strongly endorsed by the House Committees on Health, Ways and Means and on Appropriations.
Under the bill stockpiling refers to an inventory of health commodities and materials or those physical reserve of definite quantities of commodities or materials that are stored in government warehouses and other properties. The stockpiled inventory will be used for all essential health uses in times of emergencies.
HB 9456 also seeks to create the Health Procurement and Stockpiling Bureau which will carry out the mandate provided under the measure.
The HPSB will be specifically tasked to undertake the procurement process in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and manage response activiteis during public health crisis, among others.
The new agency is also mandated to maintain a buffer supply of strategic and critical drugs, medicines, vaccines and other medical needs while providing the provision of potentially life saving pharmaceuticals.
A Medical Stockpiling Fund (MSF) will be created to support the National DRug and Device Security Program.
The MSF may include donations, grants, gifts in cash or in kind from various sources. Contributors will be exempted from donor’s tax and may include the amount donated as allowable deduction from the donor’s gross income.
HB 9456 also encourages the development of domestic sources of suchd rugs and medicines, vaccines devices and medical materials that are essential in responding to public health emergency.