Archive for May, 2006

Small drugstore owners blame solons for expensive medicines

Posted on May 28, 2006. Filed under: News |

By Marie Surbano
Published on May 28, 2006 issue of The Daily Tribune

Small drugstore owners and a consumers group have accused some members of the House of the Representatives of receiving perks from multi-national companies, reason why prices of medicines in the country keep soaring.

Raul Segovia, head of the Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection, revealed several lawmakers are “involved in the pricing of goods” to control the costs of medicines in the market.

Citing a report from the World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, Segovia said high cost of medicine is a global problem which is primarily caused by governments’ decision to grant patents to multi-national pharmaceutical companies.

Segovia is part of a group called Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo, organized by the Fair Trade Alliance and composed of organizations and individuals calling for lower priced medicines and the broadening of Filipinos’ access to health care.

Like Segovia, Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan of the Philippine International Trading Corp., said while the patents of about 85 percent of drugs in the country have already expired, their prices remain high because of an alleged “cartel.”

Pagdanganan added a great number of pharmaceutical firms are employing the “greening patent” or a modification of an existing drug whose patent is about to expire to extend its rights.

“Drug companies claim drugs are so expensive because they need to cover their very high research and development costs. In 2001, they placed this at $802 million for each new drug they bring to the market,” Pagdanganan said, adding such strategy is a way to trick the consumers and the government to ensure they would have their patents extended.

According to Pagdanganan, this practice makes “the Philippines the country with the highest costs of drugs in Asia next only to Japan.

Drugs sold in the Philippines, according to Pagdanganan, are estimated to reach as high as 40 to 200 percent compared to neighboring countries considering the country was the first to enact the Generics Law.

Pagdanganan said while the country’s drug spending from 1997 to 2001 was pegged at $1.1 billion, it is still sad that half of the 85 million Filipinos “do not have access to essential drugs.” He also noted three out of five Filipinos who get sick do not get to see a doctor.

Former Sen. Wigberto Tañada, also a member of the coalition, said 70 percent of about P100 billion that drug companies earn every year goes to multi-national firms that have the “power and influence” on “those who are in and out of government.”
But despite the challenge, Tañada said the coalition will not be shaken and instead vowed to campaign to make the prices of drugs cheaper and affordable.

“Currently, there are about 20 to 26 pharmaceutical companies that are giving congressmen perks and other financial assistance,” Segovia said.

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Drugs sold in RP are the most expensive in Asia: gov’t exec

Posted on May 28, 2006. Filed under: News |

Published on May 28, 2006 issue of SunStar Manila
http://feeds.manilanews.net/?rid=5d91ba79d14bc9ac&cat=3e5bbccc730d258c&f=1

Lawmakers involved in drug cartel, according to group

Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) said on Saturday that pharmaceutical companies in the country employ a certain method that makes the cost of medicines sold here very expensive.

Pagdangan said a number of pharmaceutical firms in the Philippines use the “greening patent” method or a modification of an existing drug whose patent is about to expire in order to extend its rights.

“Drug companies claim drugs are so expensive because they need to cover their very high research and development (R & D) costs. In 2001, they placed this at US$802 million for each new drug they bring to the market,” Pagdanganan said, adding that the strategy is meant to trick consumers and the government to ensure they would have their patent extended.

Pagdanangan said such practice makes “the Philippines as the country with the highest cost of drugs in Asia next only to Japan.

Drugs sold in the Philippines, according to Pagdanganan, are 40 percent to as high as 200 percent more expensive than those sold in other countries. This is despite that the fact the country is the first to pass a Generic Drugs Act.

Aside from this, he also said that while the patents of about 85 percent of drugs sold in the country have already expired, the cost of such medicines are still high because of a “cartel” operating in the Philippines.

Former senator Wigberto Tañada, for his part, said 70 percent of the P100 billion that drug companies earn every year goes to multinational firms that have the “power and influence” among “those who are in and out of government”.

Tañada is a member of Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (Agap) organized by the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), which is a coalition of organizations and individuals that campaign for lower priced medicines and broadening the people’s access to health care.

Despite the challenge, Tañada said the coalition will not be shaken and they vowed to campaign for cheaper drugs.

Meanwhile, Raul Segovia, head of the Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection (CACP) revealed that several lawmakers are “involved in the pricing of goods”. He did not name the legislators concerned.

According to Segovia, about 20 to 26 pharmaceutical companies give certain congressmen perks and other financial benefits and allows them to participate in the pricing of drugs.

Citing a report from a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Segovia said the problem of the high cost of medicine is a global issue and it is due to the government’s decision to grant patents to multinational pharmaceutical companies.

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Solons kinokontrol ang presyo ng gamot –AGAP

Posted on May 27, 2006. Filed under: News |

Published on May 27, 2006 issue of People’s Taliba
http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php?page=news&id=2993&sid=1&urldate=2006-05-27

Inakusahan ng isang consumer protection group ang ilang kongresista ng umano’y pagtanggap ng ‘grasya’ mula sa 20 hanggang 26 na multinational companies (MNCs) upang mapahintulutan ang mga kum-panya na presyuhan ang kanilang mga gamot ayon sa kanilang kagustuhan.

Ayon kay Raul Segovia ng Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection (CACP) at miyembro ng grupong Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (AGAP), sangkot umano ang ilang miyembro ng Kongreso sa pagkontrol ng presyo ng mga gamot sa pamilihan.

Ang AGAP ay inorganisa ng Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) at binubuo ng mga samahan at indibiduwal na nananawagan para sa pagpapababa ng presyo ng gamot.

Sa ulat mula sa World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting sa Geneva, lumilitaw na ilang pamahalaan sa buong mundo ang dumadaing sa patuloy na pagtaas sa presyo ng gamot at sinisi ang pagbibigay ng patents sa pharmaceutical drugs bilang pangunahing dahilan nito.

Sinabi naman ni Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan, ng Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), na bagamat maraming patents ng humigit-kumulang sa 85 porsiyento ng gamot sa bansa ang expired na, mataas pa rin ang presyo ng mga medisina dahil sa umano’y kartel.

Ayon pa kay Pagdanganan, ilang kumpanya ng gamot ang gumagamit ng ‘greening patent’ o modipikasyon ng kasalukuyang gamot na malapit nang mag-expire ang patent.

“Ginagamit nila ito upang magkaroon sila ng patent extension,” ani Pagdanganan sa paglulunsad ng AGAP kamakailan sa Philippine General Hospital (PGH) auditorium. Dahil dito, ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamataas na halaga ng gamot sa Asya, kasunod ng Japan.

Sinabi ng PITC na ang gamot na ibinebenta sa Pilipinas ay mataas ng 40 hanggang 200 porsiyento kumpara sa mga kalapit-bansa sa Asya.

Ito ay sa kabila ng umiiral na Generics Law na hindi naman umano lahat ay sumusunod.

Idinagdag pa ni Pagdanganan na tatlo sa limang Pilipinong nagkakasakit ay walang kakayanang magpakonsulta sa doktor o bumili ng gamot. Noong 2005, sinabi ni Pagdanganan na ang mga Pilipinong gumagastos para sa gamot ay bumaba ng 2.2 porsiyento habang ang presyo naman ng medisina ay tumaas ng 10 porsiyento.

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Group launches drive for cheaper medicines

Posted on May 24, 2006. Filed under: News |

By Cher Jimenez
Published on May 23, 2006 issue of the BusinessMirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/0524/nation04.php


PIC

Health workers and consumer groups protest the sky-high prices of medicines and rally in front of the Senate in support of Senate Bill 2139 that seeks to lower prices of medicines.In a related development, the Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo group was launched at the Philippine General Hospital during which drug companies were flayed for their high prices. ROY DOMINGO

Half of lawmakers receive perks from around 20 to 26 multinational companies (MNCs) to enable these companies to control prices of medicines with impunity.

This was the accusation of Raul Segovia of the Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection (CACP) adding some members of Congress are even “involved in the pricing of goods” to control the costs of medicines in the market.

Segovia is part of a group called Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (Agap) organized by the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and composed of organizations and individuals calling for lower priced medicines and broadening Filipinos’ access to health care.

Reports from the recent World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva said governments and people around the world are complaining of the rising cost of medicines with health groups as well as many governments identifying the granting of patents on pharmaceutical drugs as a major cause.

Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) said while the patents of about 85 percent of drugs in the country have already expired, their costs are still high because of an alleged “cartel”.

Some drug firms, according to him, resort to “greening patent” or a modification of an existing drug whose patent is about to expire to extend its rights. “Drug companies claim drugs are so expensive because they need to cover their very high research and development (R & D) costs. In 2001, they placed this at $802 million for each new drug they bring to the market.”

“They are tricking the quality of drugs so that they can have effectively a patent extension,” added Pagdanganan at yesterday’s launch of Agap at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) auditorium. He said this practice makes the Philippines the country with the highest costs of drugs in Asia next only to Japan.

The PITC estimates that drugs sold in the Philippines are higher by 40 to 200 percent compared to other neighbor countries. This even if the country was the first to enact a Generics Law in the region. Pagdanganan said compliance with this policy “is very low.”

Half of the country’s 85 million population do not have access to essential drugs although the country’s drug spending averaged $1.1 billion from 1997-2001, the highest in Southeast Asia.

Pagdanganan added that three out of five Filipinos get sick without being able to see a doctor. In 2005, Filipinos spending for medicines dropped by 2.2 percent while prices of medicines went up by 10 percent.

Per capita spending on health in the Philippines is only P1,662 as of 2003, according to Sen. Mar Roxas, also a member of the coalition. Roxas has filed a bill in the Senate seeking to lower medicine prices.

Former senator Wigberto Tanada, also a member of the coalition, said 70 percent of about P100 billion that drug companies earn every year goes to MNCs and that the coalition is well aware of the “power and influence” that MNCs exercise among “those who are in and out of government,” making their campaign a really challenging one.

Other members of the network include the Third World Network, Citizen’s Alliance for Consumer Power, Association of Barangay Health Workers-NCR, Union Network International-PLC, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and the Philippine Ecumenical Action for Community Empowerment Foundation.

Third World Network director Martin Khor has said in the network’s website that last year “the World Trade Organization began a special discussion on how patents granted to drug companies have allowed them to jack up the prices of medicines, and what can be done about it.”

He said, “Fifty developing countries put forward a paper asserting that nothing in the WTO’s agreement on intellectual property (known as TRIPS) should prevent member countries from taking measures to protect public health.”

The WTO debate in a special one-day session of the WTO’s TRIPS Council in Geneva “had been called in the wake of worldwide public outrage on how the patents granted to drug companies have enabled them to jack up the prices of medicines needed to treat life-threatening diseases such as AIDS.”

The PITC had been importing much lower priced drugs from India but had been unable to increase the amount. There have been reports of pressures from drug companies on the government.

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Gov’t official laments high cost of ‘off-patent’ drugs in RP, control by cartel

Posted on May 24, 2006. Filed under: News |

Published on May 24, 2006 issue of SunStar Manila
http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/man/2006/05/24/news/gov.t.official.laments.high.cost.of.off.patent.drugs.in.rp.control.by.cartel.html

While 80 to 90 percent of medicines in the country are already “off patent,” its prices are still high, an official rued on Tuesday.

Roberto Pagdanganan, chairman of the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC), said people could no longer afford to buy medicines because multinational pharmaceutical companies control the market.

“Eighty to 90 percent of most medicines in the Philippines are beyond 20 years of patent protection but the prices continue to be very high,” he said during the launching at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) of the “Ayos na Gamot sa Abot kayang Presyo (Agap),” a coalition of local pharmaceuticals, health professionals, trade unions, government and concerned individuals that aims to bring down the prices of medicines in the country.

Pagdangangan said the amount of medicines went up by 10 percent last year and because of this, consumer purchase also dropped by 2.2 percent. He admitted that even with the availability of generic drugs in the market, consumers are still buying branded drugs because of the lack of information that generic medicines carry the same efficacy as branded drugs.

“I think that what will happen eventually is that by popularizing these alternative generics, then what we’ll see is a fair market competition. That’s the only way to break the ‘cartel’ in the distribution of drugs and eventually if we have this Mercury (drugstore) pressured to bring the prices down,” he explained.

Aside from conducting an information campaign on generic drugs, Pagdanganan said they are also opening several “Botika ng Bayan” outlets all over the country to pressure multinational drug firms to reduce their prices.

He said they are targeting the setting up of 2,000 “botika ng bayan” and 8,000 “botika ng barangay” by the end of the year. “At the same time, we are working to support the local pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

He said they are also looking into allowing local drug manufacturing companies to produce generic drugs and off-patent medicines as one way of bringing down the prices of drugs.

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