Año says sari-sari stores can get FDA authorization to sell medicines

Small retail stores (sari-sari) stores may apply and secure authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from PCOO)

This was confirmed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday, Feb. 18, after the public appealed to the government to allow sari-sari stores to sell OTC medicines.

“Puwede naman actually mag-apply sila sa FDA, 'yong mga tindahan. At kung sila ay mabigyan ng authorization, puwede na silang magbenta (Sari-sari stores can actually apply for FDA authorization. If they are issued authorizations, they can sell),’’ Año said in an interview over GMA News.

But Año clarified that small variety stores can only sell OTC medicines and not prescription drugs.

On Feb. 17, Año called on the local government units (LGUs) to enact ordinances banning the sale of medicines in sari-sari stores as fake medicines have proliferated in small retail stores that put the public’s health at great risk.

Under Section 30 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10918 otherwise known as the Philippine Pharmacy Act, only FDA-licensed retail drug outlets or pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs and medicines to the consuming public.

The DILG has started a crackdown against sari-sari stores selling medicines and fake drugs with Año ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) to immediately arrest the violators.

However, some individuals appealed to the government to allow the sale of OTC in sari-sari stores for emergency use and with some drug stores located in far away distances from their residences.

In the recent public briefing with President Duterte, the FDA noted having received 185 reports on sari-sari stores that were illegally selling medicines, of which 78 were confirmed to be guilty.

Of this number, the FDA said that nine stores were retailing fake medicines including medicines for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also 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.