Go to Congress, DILG tells critics of planned crackdown on sari-sar stores selling meds

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged critics of the planned crackdown on sari-sari (variety) store owners who are selling medicines to ask Congress to amend the law on the sale of over-the-counter medicines.

But in the meantine, DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya emphasized that they will implement the order of President Duterte on the matter and will continue ask local government units to pass an ordinance prohibiting sari-sari stores to sell medicines.

“Siguro ang gagawin po natin ay makikipag-usap tayo sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration) kung pwede silang maglabas ng some kind of regulation kung saan ‘yung mga commonly used over-the-counter drugs ay mas maluwag (to buy) para sa ating mga kababayan (Probably, what we may do is to talk to the FDA if they can come out with a kind of regulation where commonly used over-the-counter drugs may be easier for the public,’’ Malaya said.

The controversy surrounding the sale of medicines in sar-sari (variety) stores or small retail stores came to light after the public experienced a shortage of paracetamol an analgesic and antipyretic drug at the height of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) omicron scare that left many people with above normal body temperature.

Reports disclosed that even well-established drug stores ran out of paracetamol supplies as the public went on panic buying sprees even scouring small retail stores for the medicine.

In last week’s briefing with the President, the FDA sought the assistance of the DILG in arresting errant individuals after it 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).

On Feb. 17, the DILG urged the local government units (PGUs) to enact ordinances that bans the sale of any kind of medicine in “sari-sari” stores nationwide.

‘Yan po ang ating regulasyon ngayon at until maglabas ang FDA ng some sort of compromise siguro or regulasyon, walang magagawa ang department kundi ipatupad ang nakasaad sa ating batas (This is our regulation now and until the FDA comes out with some sort of may be compromise or regulation, the department cannot do anything but to enforce what is stated in the law),’’ Malaya insisted.

The issue of sari-sari stores erroneously selling commonly used OTC drugs gained attention after the FDA discovered the unlawful sale of fake medicines in small retail outlets. (Chito A. Chavez)