Monitoring the Affordable and Quality Medicines Act

Posted on January 28, 2009. Filed under: News |

PRESS BRIEFING
(with Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network and Cancer Warriors Foundation)
January 21, 2009
MAX’s, Ma. Orosa cor. U.N. Ave., Manila

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AYOS NA GAMOT SA ABOT-KAYANG PRESYO (AGAP), a multi-sectoral coalition composed of health professionals, labor unions, civil society organizations, consumer groups and public health workers, would like to commend the Department of Health for clearly defining the role of the Civil Society Groups in the implementation of the Affordable and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9502). After the publication of the Implementing Rules and Regulation, sometime in November of last year, it is worth noting that the DOH has indeed taken steps to ensure the law’s effectivity such as the setting up of a preliminary meeting on the creation of the Advisory Council for Maximum Retail Price (MRP) which we, the Civil Society Groups, are made part of. And we are happy with this positive development.

We, nevertheless, urge the Department of Health to formally deputize the Civil Society Groups as members of the advisory council and outline their mandate through an Administrative Order or Terms of Reference as a manifestation of the CSOs’ authority to monitor the implementation of the law and for transparency.

Further, we would like to encourage the Department to convene more Advisory Councils on other areas of concern, to name a few: quality and safety of drugs and medicines and implementation of cost-containment measures. Creation of such councils would facilitate the effective implementation of the law and the IRR. With this, AGAP calls on the DOH to again involve the civil society and ensure their active participation and adequate representation in these Councils.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the Department of Health, let us not forget that this new law was designed primarily to incorporate the TRIPs flexibilities into our own Intellectual Property law to promote a level playing field in the Pharmaceutical Industry, encourage meaningful competition and thus, make medicines more affordable and accessible. We now take this opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the developments or the efforts taken in terms of implementing the Intellectual Property part of the law.

During the public hearings, the Intellectual Property Office expressed their intent to amend the Patent Examiners Manual to make it conform to the law and the IRR. Thus, we would like to be informed of the initial steps taken by the IPO on this matter. We strongly urge the IPO to make use of the TRIPs flexibilities to its full extent and to always refer back to the law’s policy of promoting the primacy of public health in amending or developing any of their internal procedures.

As we always say, the campaign for greater access to medicines did not end with the passage of the law or with the publication of the IRR. More can and should be done. AGAP pledges its support to the various government agencies for the efficient enforcement of the measure and commits to continue with its efforts in advocating for people’s greater access to medicine.

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