Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheaper Medicines Now

A controversy regarding the Cheaper Medicines Act arose a few days ago, when Senator Juan Ponce Enrile revealed an alleged bribe by one pharmaceutical company. It's not exactly a bribe, more of a donation, in favor of the government. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, and there's nothing illegal with such an act. It is within a corporation's power to donate to the government. In fact, it is a good thing. Taken at face value, giving discount cards for the people to use is a nice gesture on the part of the pharmaceutical company.
The alleged bribery was denied by the company, so we must give them the benefit of the doubt. If they say that there's no intention to bribe, then let us assume that the discount cards were given out of pure gratuity.
Same with the voluntary price cut proposals. From the point of view of pharmaceutical companies, proposing voluntary price cuts can be a win-win compromise for both parties. It is understandable from the perspective of a profit-driven entity to maximize money coming in.
However, these acts should NOT in anyway influence the full implementation of the Cheaper Medicines Act. The implementation of the price ceiling is long overdue, and much needed by the people. We have suffered long enough from having exorbitant prices of medicines. It is only natural that pharmaceutical companies will do everything in their capacity in order to stall or prevent the implementation. But who is in charge here anyway? The government should correct the anomaly in our country of having one of the cheapest cigarettes while having one of the most expensive medicines in Asia, if not the world. The cigarette situation will take a longer time to correct, but having cheaper medicines would be a good start.
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