Credit for Cheaper Meds Law

Mar was Principal Author

Former Cong. Teddy Boy Locsin had this to tweet when Mar was interviewed regarding the cheaper meds law that he authored:

A former staff member of then Representative Risa Hontiveros saw this tweet months later (March 14, 2016) and sought to clarify the issue, to wit:

May mga nagshe-share pa pala nung screencap nung tweet ni Teddy Locsin re Mar Roxas falsely taking credit for the Cheaper Meds law. Ang masasabi ko lang: I can personally attest that Mar Roxas did lead the work in the Senate when it comes to the Cheaper Meds law. I was then legislative staff for Risa Hontiveros and we were among the principal authors in the HoR (something that was also missed in this tweet). We worked closely in the HoR with Junie Cua, so I can attest to that being true. And in the Senate, Mar and his staff were the main counterparts/co-workhorses. (Met people like Francis Capistrano there!) So, and this is purely factual, Teddy Locsin is wrong here. On this one, I can say based on personal knowledge that Mar Roxas did the work. (Sa totoo lang ang hindi ko masyado maalala kung anong ginawa ay si Teddy Locsin. I do remember Ferj Brion being active in the later parts as the main advocate for the price control provision, something that we were actually against because the point of the law is competition, not price control – but that’s another story). CSO advocates should be able to verify this as well.‪#‎Justfacts‬‪#‎fairisfair‬

Update: Starting to recall Teddy Locsin’s role. He was more active in the plenary, and yes, that note-passing thing…

Anonymous ‘Drug Price Regulation Board’ or Accountability?

Critics point out that ‘making price regulation optional’ was bad. In an ABS-CBN News article dated April. 29, 2008, the following text can be found:

Roxas said some congressmen oppose the Senate version of the bill because of its price regulation provision, where the President and the Secretary of the Department of Health are given the power to control the prices of medicines in the country.

The senator said contrary to the Senate version, the House wanted the price regulation powers given to a “faceless, nameless” board.

“I prefer a law where there is clear accountability rather than a board that is nameless, faceless and points fingers at other board members. What’s wrong with transparency? What’s wrong with clear accountability,” he said.

Roxas said he cannot see the logic in questioning a proposal that grants [the President] the power to control the prices of medicine.

In another article dated Feb. 24, 2010:

Roxas insisted yesterday that the Cheaper Medicine Law made the reduction of drug prices mandatory and provided measures against corruption of the regulatory process.

Roxas said Congress’ decision to reject the lobbying by Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron for a new Drug Price Regulatory Board removed a layer of bureaucracy that, like other agencies involved in market and price regulation, would have been exposed to corruption and political pressure.

He said giving the Department of Health (DOH) and the Office of the President the responsibility to determine what essential drugs must be subjected to price ceilings gave little space, if any, for lobbying from multinational drug firms.

He pointed out that sufficient price regulation safeguards were written into the law to ensure that the DOH and the President do not abuse the powers vested on them.

“The Senate and the House stood firm against the lobbying of Biron for the drug regulatory board because we saw it would make it easier to manipulate drug prices in the name of regulation,” he explained in Filipino.

Roxas said Biron’s concern about bringing down the prices of expensive medicine could all be a show since the congressman’s interest is to put in place a new agency to regulate the drug industry that could be influenced by politicians.

He said that Philippine Pharmawealth Inc., which is owned by Biron and his family, was engaged in supplying cheap but substandard medicine to government agencies as shown by records of the DOH.

Pharmawealth was suspended by the DOH from getting supply contracts with government hospitals after the firm was found guilty of selling 500 ampules of methylergometrine maleate to the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City, Bohol that when used led to the death of a patient and forced doctors to make four others undergo emergency surgery.

Roxas said that while he was pushing hard for President Arroyo to use her powers to pressure pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices through a list of essential medicine to be placed under the maximum retail price (MRP) provision of the Cheaper Medicine Law, his critics like Biron and his fellow members of the pharmaceutical industry subjected him to an intense black propaganda campaign.


4 thoughts on “Credit for Cheaper Meds Law”

    1. Hi Gino,

      We updated the article.

      Price regulation exists and it’s held by the Office of the President, as recommended by the Secretary of Health.


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