The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged local government units (LGUs) to pass an ordinance banning the sale of medicines in sari-sari (variety) stores.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued the call after reports disclosed that fake medicines have been proliferating in small retail stores that put the public’s health at great risk.
He also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately arrest violators who still insist on selling medicines, especially fake ones, despite the lack of authority to sell them.
“LGUs should protect the health and general welfare of their constituents. We, therefore, urge LGUs to ensure that sari-sari stores within their jurisdictions are not selling any medicine because under the law, hindi sila autorisado (they are not authorized),” Año said.
Under Section 30 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10918 otherwise known as the Philippine Pharmacy Act, only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-licensed retail drug outlets or pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs and medicine to the consuming public.
In a Feb. 14 briefing, President Duterte was told that from Jan. 13 to Feb. 11 that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) received 185 reports on sari-sari stores that were illegally selling medicines of which 78 were confirmed to be guilty.
Of this number, nine stores were retailing fake medicines including the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) medicines.
With the circumstances, the FDA requested the DILG to ask all LGUs to pass ordinances that would ban sari-sari stores from selling medicines.
Año expressed support to the FDA and said the DILG will work hand-in-hand with them in issuing a Memorandum Circular (MC) to LGUs for them to discontinue the sale of medicines at the level of sari-sari stores and other outlets without FDA authorization.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya called on the public to buy medicines only in drug stores and pharmacies that have been authorized to sell them.
“Mere possession of counterfeit drugs is a punishable act under the law. We only want what’s best and safe for the public,” Malaya said.
Republic Act (RA) No. 8203 or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs provides that those possessing fake medicines face imprisonment of not less than six months and one day. (Chito A. Chavez)