Senatorial candidate Herbert “Bistek” Bautista on Sunday appealed to the government to be lenient enough to allow small stores to sell vitamins and non-prescription medicines to ease the burden of small communities that do not have easy access to drug stores or pharmacies.
Bautista, former Quezon City mayor, and who advocated for mobile clinics and pharmacies to help residents in far-flung communities get access to basic medicines, said the government should help make it easier for the public to have access to over-the-counter drugs.
“Let’s not further make it difficult for our people to buy the medicines that don’t need prescriptions,” Bautista said in a statement.
“Why do we have to complicate it? These sari-sari stores don’t sell prescription drugs or medicines for HIV. They just sell medicines for headaches, fever, cough, colds that are available all over,” he pointed out.
“Why make things difficult for the small entrepreneurs who are doing their communities a big service?” he also stressed.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has asked sari-sari stores, or small neighborhood sellers of basic goods, to apply for permits to sell medicines at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a matter which Bautista said, may be difficult for these store owners.
“My first reaction to that is ‘what?’” said Bautista, who is running for senator under the UniTeam Alliance of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“Some neighborhoods are two jeepney rides away from the nearest pharmacy or drug store. Why push the people to travel far to buy just paracetamol or common pain killers?” he said.
“Also, why make it more difficult for our small store owners to do business? They should even be exempted from paying taxes because their income is too small to even make ends meet for their owners,” he said.
Besides, he said, medicines for headache, body pain, colds, cough or fever that are not controlled substances should be made available in “sari-sari” stores because these are the outlets that are usually accessible to many communities.
In many cases, Bautista noted, small “sari-sari” stores are the source of relief for poor communities because these stores allow purchases on credit.