WHY is amlodipine besylate, the maintenance drug taken once a day by millions of Filipinos suffering from hypertension, more expensive in the Philippines than in other countries?

Manufactured by the world’s leading pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and sold under the brand name Norvasc, amlodipine besylate is locally purchased at P44.75 per 5-mg tablet and P74.75 per 10-mg tablet.

But in India, the medicine, marketed by Pfizer under a different brand name, Amlogard, can be bought at the equivalent price of only P7.77 (5 mg) and P11.67 (10 mg). In Indonesia, Norvasc is sold at the equivalent price of P21 (5 mg) and P37.93 (10 mg) while in Thailand, it costs about P26.65 (5 mg) and P45.65 (10 mg).

It is a sad fact of life that medicines in the Philippines are several times more expensive than in most countries. The Philippines is in fact second to Japan in having the highest medicine prices in Asia. Despite the passage of the Generic Drugs Act almost 20 years ago, prices of medicines have not significantly gone down and continue to deprive majority of Filipinos access to affordable and quality medicines.

The culprit, according to the multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance, is the monopoly that multinational drug companies like Pfizer have on the Philippine pharmaceutical market estimated at P80 to 100 billion.

Last year, Pfizer sold P1.2-billion worth of Norvasc, corresponding to a 34.5 percent growth.

“It’s a monopoly often sustained by the patent rights of these companies over these medicines,” said Angelito Mendoza, FTA labor convenor. Multinational companies, in fact, hold more than 90 percent — if not all — of patents granted by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

As a form of intellectual property, patents are awarded to inventions and improvements of a new product or process, granting to the inventor exclusive rights to the manufacture, use, or sale of that invention. Pharmaceutical patents are given for a limited period of usually up to 20 years.

The issue of an uneven playing field in the local pharmaceutical industry has recently been brought to fore with the patent infringement case filed by Pfizer against the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and two of its officals — Director Leticia Barbara Gutierrez and lawyer Emilio Polig Jr. — for importing samples of Norvasc. Pfizer holds Philipine Letters Patent No. 24348, the patent on amlodipine besylate.

In September 2005, the PITC brought in 40 pieces each of 5-mg and 10-mg Norvasc tablets from Pakistan and submitted these to BFAD for registration. BFAD, being the agency under the Department of Health which regulates the registration of medicines before they are marketed in the country, in turn granted PITC’s parallel import drug registration.

By virtue of Executive Order No. 442 issued by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in July 2005, the PITC was designated as “the lead coordinating agency to make quality medicines available, affordable and accessible to the greater masses of Filipinos.”

PITC’s mandate allows it to engage in parallel importation of low-priced generic medicines from countries like India and Pakistan.

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement, which was further reinforced by the 2001 Doha Declaration on public health, also accorded governments and member-states various tools, including parallel importation and compulsory licensing, to fulfill their public health obligations and ensure access to cheaper drugs.

Parallel importation allows patented medicines to be purchased from the cheapest source without having to get the consent of the patent holder. Compulsory licensing allows governments to order a local firm to produce a drug and pay for a negotiated royalty to the patent holder.

But Pfizer is claiming that the case is not one of parallel importation because the product in question did not come from a source it authorized. It has therefore asked the Makati RTC to revoke PITC’s parallel import drug registration and to enjoin BFAD from entertaining applications by generic drug companies for registration of amlodipine besylate. Pfizer’s patent on amlodipine besylate is set to expire on June 13, 2007.

Industry sources say the court case will effectively extend the multinational company’s monopoly over amlodipine besylate by at least 18 months, which is the period it takes BFAD to evaluate an application for drug registration filed by a generic company.

Sec. Roberto Pagdanganan, president and chairman of PITC, said that they obtained the Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) for the anti-hypertension drug only in anticipation of the patent’s expiration.

“We have not marketed or sold a single Norvasc. In fact, we have informed Pfizer that we have no intention of doing so until after the Pfizer patent expires,” he said.

PITC has since filed a counter-suit against Pfizer.

FTA’s Mendoza is urging the government to invoke the “policy flexibilities” in the Doha Declaration, without which, he said, would only mean that “more Filipinos will suffer and die needlessly.”

The FTA, he said, is also seeking the passage of Senate Bill No. 2139 filed by Senator Mar Roxas to address specific provisions in the present Intellectual Property Code (Republic Act No. 8293) to enable a level playing field in the local pharmaceutical industry in order that generic equivalents of patented drugs can be easily brought into the market and provide lower-priced alternatives within reach of poor Filipinos.

In a recent forum, Roxas noted that more families are increasingly having a difficult time coping with health emergencies due to financial constraints and that indigent patients are accumulating debts in purchasing badly needed medicines for their life-threatening ailments.

The senator said he hopes his amendments to the IP Code will result in making affordable medicines with the same quality as branded ones available in the market.

“This is a bill worth fighting for because it is for the benefit of every Filipino who ahs a right to quality and affordable medicines as part of our public health service,” he said.

An industry source also pointed to the glaring absence of an explicit “early-working exception” or more commonly known as the “Bolar provision” in the IP Code. The said provision, he said, allows all development, testing and experimental work, including the importation of samples, required for the registration of a generic medicine to take place during the patent period of the original product. This is to ensure that generic medicines become immediately available in the market after the patent expires, improving access and competition.

Acknowledging the impact of the Pfizer case beyond amlodipine besylate, Pagdanganan warned that the issuance of a temporary restraining order to Pfizer would provide multinational companies the strategy for preventing the immediate entry of generic equivalents.

“Our goal is to provide the Filipino people with access to medicines at prices they can afford,” he said, in keeping with the government’s target of reducing the price of essential medicines by half of their 2001 levels by 2010.

52 Responses to Ensuring access to cheap medicines and the Pfizer case

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naykika

May 12th, 2006 at 3:48 am

Hydrochlorothiazide better known as water pill, also a very popular maintenance drug for hyphertension is now generically produced all over at less than 5cents a pill. I’m pretty sure it is still selling for more than its equivalent in peso (25mg). It’s a drug most suited in our diet combine with other generic since its function is draining the salt in the system. But maybe its to cheap no money for the drug companies to produce generically. Maybe the government itself should start producing medications generically whose patents already espired (usually after 17 years).

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Rizalist

May 12th, 2006 at 5:28 am

So it’s Pfizer’s fault that Filipinos don’t have a competitive market in their country? That’s what you get when you promote protectionism in the first place: a noncompetitve economy. Then, when you realize that somehow, someway, some local dummy fronts for a big “foreign multinational” and gets behind your protectionist screen, then you blame the foreign company.

The solution if for more of those evil multinational monopolists to get in here and drive prices down with competition.

The other thing is, the PATENTS on Norvasc and many other medicines EXPIRED long ago. Once that happened, anyone in the Philippines could have started to make the generic version. But nooo…we hate patents they are the tools of the imperialists. Yeah. What is it that Mar Roxas wants to do to ‘level the playing field again’?

Oh and have the GOVT start making and selling medicines? Nationalise the drug companies maybe?

Are you guys crazy?

Look, why re-invent the wheel and act as if we don’t know what the solution is. Only competition drives prices down in a capitalist economy. Now in a socialist command economy you can do anything you want. But what that leads to is more poverty and oppression.

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Jon Mariano

May 12th, 2006 at 10:37 am

My mom, even if she has money to buy the drug, skips the medication when she feels well. She being raised during the 2nd world war when money was so scarce, would say “sayang ang pera”. It shows she’s so medically misinformed, but you can also see that the price of medicine has a huge effect in deciding whether to take them or not.

For multinationals, they’re just playing true to their nature. Profit is the bottom line, and they’re going to get it at anybody’s expense. They play by the rules, even if they come out as callous and cold-hearted.

It’s really our politicians and executive officers who may be influenced by the $$$ of these Multinational companies (not just Pfizer) who are at fault here. If GMA could push the envelope in thwarting her political opponents, why couldn’t she do the same in matters like prices of essential medicines?

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lokalokang matino

May 12th, 2006 at 10:44 am

Buy medicine and you got to pay EVAT too. The multi-nationals and the government are killing softly the citizens with their multi-level earnings benefitting only the rich and the high & mighty.

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Rizalist

May 12th, 2006 at 10:45 am

if there is anything the govt could really do to help it is to promote the development of a generic drugs industry. First they need to promote education about patents, copyrights, and other IPR related issues on which there is little but absolute and utter nonsense being spewed out by the press. The portrayal of these as imperialist tools to monopolize invention and innovation are ignorant and misinformed.

Not sure now actually if Norvasc is off-patent, but at 17 years average, such patents don’t last very long at all. After they expire, the technology essentially enters the public domain.

The other big problem with generics is that the name brand manufacurers have successfully portrayed them as being of lower quality and reliability as their own products. This is another point of public education not made in the pre-occupation with a victimological interpretation of things.

Our real illness is mental and ideological, not medical or economic.

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Jon Reyes

May 12th, 2006 at 10:47 am

If you are a pharmaceutical company which has invested billions of dollars to come up with innovative medicine, then, of course, you will do all to protect your patent.
Why zero in on Pfizer? How can the company recover its investment if it is not allowed to have its patent protected?
I don’t mind buying expensive medicine as long as it works for me.
Mind you, the medicine given at government health centers are mostly cheap and ineffective.
I remember the program “Imbestigador” doing a story on medicine given at a health center in Pasig. A UP laboratory test showed that the medicine’s content was way below what was required.
You see, the government is inefficient when it comes to health care even to the point of buying supposedly cheap medicine but it turns out that these are substandard.
The patient is given a choice but please, don’t do it at the expense of a pharmaceutical company that is only protecting its rights.

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Jon Mariano

May 12th, 2006 at 11:01 am

We already have a law for generic drugs, a quick google search reveals it is Republic Act 6675, made into law in 1988.

This specific drug from Pfizer (Norvasc) will have its patent expire in June 13, 2007.

So, it again is an issue of implementation (goes back to the executive branch of gov’t).

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Jon Mariano

May 12th, 2006 at 11:04 am

Jon Reyes, we’re all for all companies gaining something out of their investments. But how can you explain the discrepancy in prices for Norvasc in different countries? My so high in the Philippines? The answer basically is, because Pfizer can raise it as high as they can. They’re guilty of greediness.

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indio_lawless

May 12th, 2006 at 11:27 am

The pharmaceutical industry/sector, just like any other industry/sector also have trade secrets and lingo kasama na rin d’yan ang mga tinatagong kalokohan.

Pfizer is in the limelight now primarily because of the report posted by our good friend Alecks ;p

Isn’t other pharmaceutical company like AstraZeneca,GlaxoSmithKline , Wyeth, to name a few, is of the same playing ground as Pfizer?

If you happened to be in the field of medicine, it will not come as a surprise to see a beeline of medical representatives (medreps) in one’s clinic,hospital or pharmacy, deliberately to solicit patronage of their products.

It will not also be a complete surprise if a pharm company will sponsor a summer outing or offer a travel package for their clientele and for what in exchange?

Your guess is good as mine.

Now we are wondering why there’s a discrepancy in the prices of drugs 😛

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Jon Reyes

May 12th, 2006 at 11:35 am

It has something to do with tariff imposed by the government on drug imports that affects how Pfizer calculates the price.

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scud_1975

May 12th, 2006 at 11:38 am

Ang pabago-bagong isip ng mga taga oposisyon, mas magulo pa sa bagyo! Nasaan na nga ba si Sen. Mar Roxas, ang No. 1 idol ko naman sa pagsusulong ng CONCORD (Constitutional Correction for Development) na chacha nung panahon ni Erap. Kasi naman kontra kay Gloria, kaya kontra rin muna sa 100% na pagmamay-ari sa mga korporasyon ng mga dayuhan. Ano nga ba ang kinakatakot natin at para tayong mga praning na laging may duda sa mga dayuhan? akala ko ba lahi tayo ng matatapang na handang makipagsabayan? Anga lagi nating angal, mataas ang bilang ng walang trabaho, mataas ang bilang ng mga nagugutom, mataas ang bilang ng mga umaalis ng bansa, mataas ang presyo ng mga bilihin.. lahat na lang inangal natin na mataas, panty at brief na lang ang bumababa. Bakit hindi baguhin ang nakasaad sa Konstitusyon at alisin ang 60% kuno na pag-aari ng mga Pilipino, na dummy corporation lang naman.. pero ang mga kapwa nating Pilipino na majority owners ang nagdadala ng kamalasan at problema. Ang mga Filipino Majority Owners ang nagbibigay ng kotong, lagay, padulas, langis sa mga taong nasa gobyerno..siguro naman mababawasan yan kung ang may-ari nyan mga dayuhan, ANG LAGAY BA NAMAN EH masasabi mo pa ba yan kung ingles ang kausap mo.

Anu-ano ang mga positibong epekto ng 100% Foreign Ownership?
1. ) Mababang presyo ng mga bilihin gaya ng gamot dala ng kompetisyon.
2.) Tataas ang employment rate dahil sa mga dagdag na kailangan na trabaho.
3.) Papasok ang mga makabagong teknolohiya na wala sa Pilipinas
4.) Bawas sa “corruption”

Ano naman ang negatibong epekto? PRIDE..masasaktan ang pride ng mga nasyonalismong mga pinoy. Galit tayo sa discrimination, pero numero uno tayong “unfair”. Ang Pilipino kahit saang panig ng mundo magpunta, pwede agad bumili ng lupa at magtayo ng sariling negosyo pagbaba pa lang ng eroplano. Ganoon din kahit nasa Pilipinas, ayaw ng may ka-kompitensya kahit wala naman pampuhunan.

Kung hinayaan na lang sana ang Placer Dome ng Canada at hindi na nagtayo ng dummy Marcopper baka naiwasan pa sana ang toxic waste sa marinduque.

Kung hinayaan na lang sana ang Fraport Engineering ng Germany at hindi na nagtayo pa ng dummy PIATCO naiwasan sana ang problema sa NAIA

Kung hinayaan na lang sa ang ang Lafayette Mining ng Australia at hindi na nagtayo pa ng dummy Lafayette Philippines wala sanang problema sa Rapu-rapu

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Jon Mariano

May 12th, 2006 at 11:49 am

In India, the main reason why drugs are cheaper is because they do not recognize drug patents. They therefore can manufacture generic versions without paying royalty fees. (They’ve passed a new law recognizing patents. I think it was 2005, last year only).

Tax on drugs (just like tax on Gas), is sizable, but almost 100% difference with prices in Thailand? If it’s completely the reason, then it should be the government earning more out of them. But no, it’s the Multinational Corps who are profiting handsomely.

But as I have mentioned, they do it because they can do it. They’re guilty of greediness, our government guilty of indifference, and lack of imagination and will (as usual) in dealing with the problem.

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ricelander

May 12th, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Now, this I do not understand: what exactly is keeping outside competition out?

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ricelander

May 12th, 2006 at 1:04 pm

Now, this I do not understand: what exactly is keeping outside competitors from coming in? Ownership restriction?

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gwaping

May 12th, 2006 at 1:13 pm

ito malamang na malamang si Gloria talaga ang may kasalanan, wala naman siguro kayong pwede ng pagbintangan hayyyy

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mang_doding

May 12th, 2006 at 1:27 pm

scud i agree yung kay sen. mar roxas binoto ko din sya, mas mukhang sensible/reasonable pa nga si ralph recto….dito kasi sa atin lagi na lang WIFM (What’s In it For Me) kaya mayroong time to move on at sa tamang oras at panahon; sigaw ng bayan at citizens congress.

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mang_doding

May 12th, 2006 at 1:29 pm

scud, mea culpa if i had said binoto ko rin sya (mar roxas) since i took it (that you voted for him) as such when i read your post the first time. my apologies.

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baycas

May 12th, 2006 at 3:50 pm

neal h. cruz in april 2006 asked, Why are Pinoys dropping dead of heart attacks and strokes?

it is because they cannot afford to buy medicine to control their blood pressure.

…although he singled out pfizer as the culprit as to why Filipinos are dropping dead because of the high-priced norvasc, i am sure other drug companies may also be liable especially when monopoly of a particular drug exists.

nevertheless, pfizer is still in the limelight for it wants to extend by eighteen (18) months its exclusive rights to sell amlodipine. such greed brazenly smacked to our faces!

18 monthsThis is the period it will take the BFAD to evaluate an application for drug registration by a generic company. The 18 months of extended monopoly translates to P2.39 billion of additional sales for Pfizer even after the expiration of its patent, Pagdanganan said. But it could mean the death or maiming of thousands of Filipinos who could suffer heart attacks and strokes because they cannot afford to buy amlodipine besylate.

yes, there is a reason for their monopoly…for the return of investments…but the lowdown is the jacked-up cost for patients:

neal writes, This law gives a pharmaceutical company that develops a new drug a 25-year monopoly over its sale. That is to give the company enough time and opportunity to recover its investments in research and development for the drug. And the company usually prices the new drug for “as much as the market can bear”- meaning, in most cases, beyond the reach of poor patients, who die because of lack of medication. It is ironic that companies engaged in the manufacture of medicines for the care and health of people can be so callous.

i am sure alecks’ post and neal’s column had said enough, now, if i may just ask: why are Manoys propping up?

it is because owners now enjoy an almost 50% price reduction of sildenafil citrate when unilab’s ANDROS was introduced last year challenging market share of pfizer’s VIAGRA.

it’s all about competition…and as early as last year before its launch, there is propaganda against the dangerous formulation of Andros…i wonder where they are coming from???

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Phil Cruz

May 12th, 2006 at 4:45 pm

I’m not too familiar with all these gobbledygook about patents and such. What I do know (and this is commonly knowledge), is that pharmaceutical companies have to spend a lot for gifts, perks, commissions, etc just to get doctors to prescribe a pharmaceutical company’s medicines. And for some unscrupulous doctors, it’s a bidding game.

“Thank you gifts” include foreign vacation trips for the doctor and his family, appliances, cars, seminars and conferences abroad, etc. If these are also being done in other countries, but yet their medicines are still cheaper than ours, then maybe the gifts here are really tremendously high, too.

Anyway, if medicines in other countries are a lot cheaper than ours (and Japan’s), then they must be doing something we aren’t. So why don’t we start doing what they’re doing?

On the other hand, maybe we are doing something they are not doing. So let’s stop doing it.

Senator Mar Roxas has chosen a very good issue to tackle. It strikes a chord in the heart of every Filipino. In fact, he’s been at it for several years now. But what are the results? Please come out and enlighten the public on this very important issue.

Mr. Senator, please enumerate to us in plain and simple language the primary causes of high priced medicines (ranked in order of gravity), what is needed to eliminate these causes, who are the ones responsible for taking such actions and by when can we expect results?

Is there any way that we can get a breakdown and analysis of the “promotions and advertising” and other expenditures of the pharmaceutical industry by country and compare it to the industry in the Philippines? And is there a way of comparing such expenditures by company here in the Philippines?

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Alecks Pabico

May 12th, 2006 at 7:37 pm

Rizalist,

Pfizer’s patent on amlodipine besylate is set to expire on June 13, 2007. What my industry source finds suspicious is that the case filed by Pfizer against PITC and BFAD, including individual cases against two BFAD officials, will effectively extend its monopoly over amlodipine besylate by 18 months. As pointed out in Neal Cruz’s column (thanks to Baycas), this translates to P2.39 billion in additional sales for Pfizer based on its current growth rate.

The way my source sees it, the Pfizer case is not so much about protecting the pharmaceutical company’s patent rights but about maintaining its monopoly beyond the patent life.

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FerdinandMarcos

May 12th, 2006 at 10:21 pm

Di lang gamot mahal dito, mas mahal din ang tax natin compared sa US. Kung ang taxable income mo dito ay 100,000, at least 20% ang tax mo. Sa US mga 2,000 dollars ito ang ang tax mo ay 0.10%. Compare niyo
IRS – USA
http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:lVEScztaDT0J:www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040tt.pdf+irs+tax+rate&hl=en&gl=ph&ct=clnk&cd=1

BIR – Philippines
http://www.bir.gov.ph/taxinfo/tax_income.htm

Kung sino pa ang walang-wala, siya pa ang lalong pinapahirapan. Tapos nanakawin pa ng mga kumag sa Gobyerno ang buwis natin. Wala talagang konsensya ang mga walang hiya!

Mas mahal din ang mga imported na gamit dito… compare nyo na lang ang presyo nang mga electronics dito at sa US:
http://www.bestbuy.com
http://www.circuitcity.com
http://www.compusa.com

Ang laki nang diprensya. Mga mapagsamantalang negosyante at malaking tax nang gobyerno ang dahilan niyan. Buti pa yung mapeperang bansa, mas kaya nilang magbayad nang malaki, tapos mas mura benta sa kanila. Tayo namang walang wala, mas mataas pa ang benta sa atin. Aping-api talaga tayo!!!

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naykika

May 13th, 2006 at 6:25 am

Patent or no Patent, the question is why price of prescription durgs is much, much lower in Canada than in the U.S.?

1. Canda does not allow advertisement of specific brand name RX medications either in print or in broadcast. Lot of savings for drug companies.
2. Generic manufacturing has been allowed long time ago for drugs whose patents expired but are still useful (ie ASA, allopurinol for gout, tylenol 3, penecillin and hundreds more)
3. Canada has a universal health care, where drugs are dispense at “no cost” to patients in Hospitals, to indigents, to welfare recipients, to natives, and for those who are gainfully employed are usually covered by the employers drug plans, therefore the Government and the Insurance companies have the upper hand in negotiating for a reasonable pricing.
4. lastly, generic drugs are of the same quality as the original patent ones. this I can attest, because I won’t hesitate to accept the generic substitute every time the brand name is out of stock (my pharmacist assures me of the same quality) and i’m a walking drugstore.

and then again, the govt. here won’t think twice to impose regulation to drugs prices the same as it does with energy (hydro, natural gas, water, telphone rate and most basic services). It might take guts, but who needs bribes and gifts from these drug reps when the health of nation is at stake??

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freewheel

May 13th, 2006 at 9:06 am

naykika, your comment about deserves a closer look. point nos. 1 and 2, are specific in nature and DOH, BFAD and other pertinent gov’t. agencies should integrate this in their planning schedules.

since it has business-political implications, we need brave souls in both Houses to sponsor a corresponding bill. Juan Flavier tried to reflect those sentiments before in his bills, but were drowned out, in part by drug companies lobby groups but in bigger part, by local disciples of sen. joseph macArthy who thought they were commie ideas. tsk, tsk…

point no. 3, will most likely be dismissed as, “… ha? pulitika na naman ang magbibigay ng mga gamot?… ”

point no. 4, generic drugs manufacturing can only thrive in an environment where it enjoys a tacit approval by the government by allowing incentives and the like. again, it need not be hard to achieve if only political will is present. ha.. hayy…

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freewheel

May 13th, 2006 at 9:09 am

ooopppss, should have read; …your comment above…

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naykika

May 13th, 2006 at 9:39 am

freewheel,can you imagine the baby boomers coming out of retirement with all the aches and pains paying for all these high prices? BTW seniors are getting their medications totally free on top of all other benifits. one good reason why drug companies don’t want to rise the ire of the hands that feed them and feed them good. the taxpayers thru the government.

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freewheel

May 13th, 2006 at 10:52 am

okay, the taxpayers consequently will have to shoulder what society had provided them. as a matter of course. no problem with that.
the problem lies in the ff: a) collection b.) upkeep(ment) of collected taxes
c.) turnover of the same to Treasury d.) how Treasury disburses those funds vis-a-vis programmed expenses e.) finally, the programmed expenses.

tough luck, no?

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lamok

May 13th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Gloria is an economist. Why drug prices is very high is apparently Glorias fault. Oust her, now na!

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jr_lad

May 13th, 2006 at 6:43 pm

it’s not just 2x. i was told the price of medicines in the phils compared to thailand, actually varies from 3x to as high as 5x. my cousin’s wife (a dermatologist) when they had a seminar in thailand had a buying spree (can’t blame them) because of the cheap price of medicines there (one example, a medicine costing P15 in the phils is only about P3 in thailand). is it sub-standard? I don’t think so being commonly used by doctors in the country. so, i think even with the high tariffs imposed on these medicines as john reyes (the lobbyist) is pointing out, there’s no way the price of medicines in the phils can actually cost 3x or 5x as high as in india or thailand. even pagdanganan is amenable to this fact. the truth is as what phil cruz have mentioned above, “pharmaceutical companies have to spend a lot for gifts, perks, commissions, conventions, etc just to get doctors to prescribe a pharmaceutical company’s medicines. and for some unscrupulous doctors, it’s a bidding game.” the reason why i think even with the generics law in effect, doctors are still prescribing expensive medicines. i’m sure too pharmaceutical co. have their lobbyist stationed in congress as well.

naykikay asked, “who needs bribes and gifts from these drug reps when the health of the nation is at stake?” well, you can ask our greedy politicians and corrupt gov.t officials. napakatagal ng problema etong mataas na presyo ng gamot pero wala silang ginagawa tungkol dito.

it’s really all about greediness. just like the case of oil companies. while the world is reeling from the high price of oil, they are earning billions of dollars. outrageous as some world leaders described it.

to borrow gwapings word, “ SAKIT SA ULO!”

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naykika

May 13th, 2006 at 8:36 pm

jr-lad-grandma name is monica tawag namon lola kika (sa iloilo nay kika) hence, naykika,but naykikay sounds ok..going back to my other comment why we don’t allow advertisement of Rx drugs here is also to discourage patients from insisting on their doctors on taking medications that are not suited for their ills. It is very dangerous to self medicate and I believe that some Pharmacies in the country are dispensing RX medication without doctors prescription.. This could cause adverse reaction as dangerous as kidney and liver and other organs failures. And advertising drugs could also influence the public for preference. Medications should be better left between the doctors and their patients. again thanks. happy mother’s day to all moms.

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jr_lad

May 13th, 2006 at 9:35 pm

opps! sori naykika. nadugangan gli “y”. a slip of the finger :) happy mother’s day to you and to all moms out there.

indeed, it is very dangerous to self medicate but with the high fees that doctors charge nowadays, you can’t really blame juan de la cruz specialy when everything seems to be going up except his monthly take. anyway, i think most pharmacies now are not selling prescription drugs w/o of course the doctor’s prescription.

and for those who can’t afford the doctor’s fee & high priced medicines they have other alternatives… like doctor sipsip. :)

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lutongmakaw

May 15th, 2006 at 12:43 am

There are some medicine that do not have patent and yet it is as good as an alternative to more expensive medicnes for heart and Hyper-tension.

CO-Q10 is a classice example.

http://chinese-school.netfirms.com/coenzyme-q10-heart-disease.html
http://faculty.washington.edu/~ely/coenzq10.html

Multinational companies do not want to promote it because it is not patentable, being a supplement rather than a medicine. They believe it will not bring them good profit because of competition.

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vonpogi

May 15th, 2006 at 1:50 am

PAKI SABI KAY SEC. SIRA-ULO GONGONGZALEZ NA KASUHAN RIN NIYA AKO DAHIL MAY NATANGGAP AKONG E-MAIL BUHAT SA AMERICA NA ANG NILALAMAN AY MGA KAWALANGHIYAAN NG MG ARROVO. PINASA SA AKIN NG MGA KAKILALA KO SA U.S. AT NAKUHA OR NABASA NILA SA MGA MAGAZINE AT SA US NEWSPAPER NA PATI ANG MGA AHENSIYA NG NEWSPAPER SA U.S. AY HINDI NANINIWALA KAY ARROVO AT PANIWALA NILA NA TALAGANG NANDAYA AT TINULUNGAN SIYA NGA MGA HIMAYUPAK NA “GERM-NERAL”. LABAN SA MGA ARROVO ITO AT SIGURADONG TREASON RIN ANG NAGAWA KO DAHIL IYUN ANG PAG KAKA UNAWA NG MGA GAGO SA GOBYERNO NATIN. ELLEN, PAKI FORWARD MO NA RIN ANG BLOG KO RITO KAY MIKE “BULLDOG” DEFECTOR AT PARA MAG NEWS CONFERENCE AT MAY MASABI OR MABALITA SIYA.

SEC. SIRA ULO GONGONGZALES KASUHAN NINYO AKO NG REBELLION RIN.

SABAGAY LAHAT NG PUMAPANIG KAY TIYANAK AY NAWAWALA SA SARILI NILA AT HINDI NA NILA ALAM ANG TAMA OR MALI OR BALIKTAD NA ANG MEANING NG TAMA OR MALI SA KANILA DAHIL BALIKTAD NA RIN ANG MGA UTAK NITO.

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Rizalist

May 15th, 2006 at 5:21 am

Alecks,

Thanks for that key piece of information on Norvasc. After the patent expires, (and of course the patent cannot be extended by even the Supreme Court of the Philippines) will Norvasc be made generically in the Philippines? I doubt it because no one ever seems to have explained it to all those budding Filipino entrepreneurs who read nothing but Anti ImperialismWeekly that patents are designed so inventors and capitalists are given a mechanism by which to disclose their discoveries without shutting down the R&D pipeline. If you like, patents are like bribes to the golden goose of innovation to keep on laying golden eggs. Trying to make patents out to be a tool of monopolization is to complete misunderstand patents.

This blogging software is probably covered by patents, if not everything you are using now was once covered by patents, from the key design on the keyboard to the CPU core processing pipeline design and manufacturing techniques.

Without patents we would still be eating with uhmmm, our fingers.

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wes

May 16th, 2006 at 1:28 am

Jon Reyes said,
May 12, 2006 @ 11:35 am

It has something to do with tariff imposed by the government on drug imports that affects how Pfizer calculates the price.

——————————————————————

Tariff imposed by the government on drug imports has little or no effect on how Pfizer calculates the price of their medicines to be sold in the market. Sabi ng kakilala ko sa pharma sector, pharma companies usually price their medicines on the basis of “how much the market can bear.” So, kung kahit sobra-sobra-sobrang mahal na ng gamot, kung may bumibili pa rin, di pa rin bababa yung presyo ng gamot.

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chakster

May 16th, 2006 at 5:38 pm

naku po.. wala na ngang mga doctor dito sa pilipinas, sobrang mahal pa ng gamot. katakot. parang wala na tayong papatunguhan nito.

itong pfizer ay dapat maibulgar na ang kagahaman. pagsasamantala ito sa mga taong walang choice kundi bumili ng gamot nila.

kung may terorista man sa mundo, pfizer ang numero unong terorista milyon milyong tao ang pinapatay nila. pagpatay dahil sa kanilang ganid at kasakiman sa pera.

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jester-in-exile

May 16th, 2006 at 5:52 pm

rizalist,

“Trying to make patents out to be a tool of monopolization is to complete misunderstand patents.”

agreed. there is no such thing as a free lunch. how else can an inventor/ scientist/ writer/ engineer/ et cetera be compensated for his time and effort in developing whatever it is he invented?

that’s why there are patents, and why they have time limits — so that they can get compensated, and so that when they have been justly compensated then everyone gets to use it.

still, i’m not too pleased with Pfizer’s actions.

“We have not marketed or sold a single Norvasc. In fact, we have informed Pfizer that we have no intention of doing so until after the Pfizer patent expires,” Pagdanganan said. so why the Pfizer suit? to me, Pfizer looks as greedy as hell, blocking the chance to produce the generic drug, presumably cheaper to buy.

i don’t doubt Pfizer’s legal team advised the company’s course of action. i wonder if GMA and Pfizer share the same legal team? heh heh

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Alecks Pabico

May 16th, 2006 at 5:57 pm

Wes,

You’re right. And the market is practically the AB segment of the population. Yet, to think that the affluent, my industry source tells me, are now into cheaper alternative medication and generics, Pfizer still managed to rake in P1.2 billion in Norvasc sales last year.

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Alecks Pabico

May 16th, 2006 at 6:27 pm

Rizalist,

On the issue of patents being used as a “tool of monopolization,” I would tend to think that somebody really made sure that multinational companies will continue to enjoy a monopoly over the pharmaceutical patents issued to them even after their expiry.

My industry source says it is appalling, if not tragic, that, for a developing country like ours, our Intellectual Property Code (IPC) does not have an explicit Bolar provision, which even the U.S. and Canadian patent laws have.

The U.S. law states that:

It shall not be an act of infringement to make, use, offer to sell or sell within the United States or import into the United States a patented invention…solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use or sale of drugs or veterinary biological products.”

The Canada Patents Act states that:

“It is not an infringement of a patent for any person who makes, constructs, uses or sells a patented invention in accordance with subsection (1) to make, construct or use the invention, during the applicable period provided for by the regulations, for the manufacture and storage of articles intended for sale after the date on which the term of the patent expires.”

The Philippine IPC does not also incorporate other flexibilities reiterated in the Doha Declaration on TRIPs and Public Health, including the right to adopt an international principle of exhaustion to authorize parralel importation, which developing countries regard as a key component of a patent system sensitive to public health needs.

On the contrary, the IPC even goes beyond the minimum standards required by the TRIPS Agreement for protecting intellectual property to the detriment of public health.

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naykika

May 16th, 2006 at 8:02 pm

and this I heard from the grapevine. Cholesterol reducing drug Zocor patent already expired or close to expiring and so is Lipitor. Both belong to the “statin” group of medication and I believe one of them is manufactured by Pfizer.
these drugs are also life saving as maintenance and for treatment of LDL (bad cholesterol) and to maintain a healthy heart. So I hope a generic equivalent of both drugs would soon be availble at a very reasonable price that even an average earner can afford.

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lamok

May 16th, 2006 at 8:07 pm

In my opinion, patents are for those who can afford it (rich). And patentless for who can’t (poor).

In Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, HK, Taiwan, India and other are teeming with pirated software (sori hindi gamot example ko). But in the Philippines, the board led by Edu Manzano is so active it somehow deprives people’s right access to information.

Few months back all the internet cafes in one city in the visayas were closed. One school disconnected to the internet, and my pc cannot even be repaired – dahil everyone was takot from the Edu team.

If the prices of these softwares are beyond the reach of the poor – particulalry in the Philippines, I am for piracy – sori na lang. I have to, because I got to.

In this case, if hundreds of people are dying because they can’t afford it, I guess we got to manufacture it sans patents, because we have to.

We need to pass a law that is more pro poor. Example, a patented medicine would only be allowed to be sold here provided a parallel generic medicine is manufacured and sold at its lowest possible price.

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baycas

May 16th, 2006 at 9:09 pm

expensive medicines? take Biron…then pass it on…

macon ramos araneta reports while michael l. tan comments.

a bill for the high-priced pill,
may it not bear ill will.

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gwaping

May 17th, 2006 at 4:41 pm

….well, until Gloria is out, don’t expect the problem on Laws in substance and in form will be realized….both houses of congress would rather tackle IMPEACHMENT proceedings sponsored by oppositions rather than amend laws for the betterment of our lives, neither they would ENTERTAIN changes on the BASIC LAW which is the constitution. Now guys, can you blame Gloria for the inadequacy of the law on this matter?

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jester-in-exile

May 17th, 2006 at 6:09 pm

“Now guys, can you blame Gloria for the inadequacy of the law on this matter?”

yep. if she had the moral backbone to face the music, this would be all over now.

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jr_lad

May 17th, 2006 at 6:11 pm

so gwaping, kumbinsido ka na na si gloria ang problema? may paraan pa para maayos ang problema. yung sinasabi nilang SUPREME SACRIFICE. an act of statesmanship na karaniwang ginagawa ng mga opisyales ng ibang bansa. dapat yun na gawin ni gloria for the sake of the country. hindi ba napaka-SELFISH naman ni gloria kung hindi pa siya bababa sa puwesto eh maliwanag na siya ang hadlang sa pag-unlad ng bansa? dapat magpakabayani na siya di ba? siguradong maraming sasaludo sa kanya (isa na ako doon) kapag ginawa niya yun.

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bernardocarpio

May 18th, 2006 at 3:21 am

Mas mainam ang mungkahi ni Sen. Santiago mag mass suicide na lang ang buong politiko sa buong Pilinas yun ang supreme sacrifice na kailangan ng bawat Filipino. Para matapos na din ang mga politial dynasty sa Pilipinas.

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jr_lad

May 18th, 2006 at 4:11 pm

agree ako sayo bernardocarpio. kaso si miriam wise… baka after magsuicide mga poilitiko at siya na lang natira sabihin niya “I LIED, BWA HA HA HA!”

more on miriam kung gaano ka lala na ang takbo ng utak neto kagaya ng kababayan niyang si sir raul o. gonzles.
http://news.inq7.net/opinion/index.php?index=2&story_id=76147&col=84

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bernardocarpio

May 19th, 2006 at 6:53 am

jr, mabuti pa nga yung mga weird ang pag-iisip e nakakapag-isip ng magandang solution kaysa dun sa tingin natin ay matino ang takbo ng utak puro kabalbalan naman ang alam. Why settle for one crook when you can have them all jailed di ba? Tutal ang gobyerno naman ay pinapalakad ng bawat binoto natin pati na yung illegitimate ikanga bakit isesentro natin ang attensyon sa iisang tao lamang. Mapa opposition o pro pare-pareho lang ang mga balahibo ng mga yan. Sino bang politiko ang nakapag-angat ng buhay ng pinoy? Wala! Kaya bakit pa tayo bibilib kahit kanino sa kongreso e matuwid nga ang mga utak at abugado pa ang iba pero bookish naman at walang matinong batas na maipanukala.

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gwaping

May 19th, 2006 at 1:49 pm

…no jr_lad, the problem is not necessarily Gloria, what I am saying is the Congress, specifically the oppositions, are paranoid enough to paralyze their JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS, instead of amending BASIC LAWS, the much needed today like the problem in costs of medicines, they EXERT EFFORT and USE TAXPAYERS MONEY IN IMPEACHMENT when they know already that they won’t succeed now for all practical considerations……they should learn from a Chinese saying….’Don’t fight when you are uphill’….what they need to do is to ESTABLISH their position first, wait for their time but in the MEANTIME SERVE THE PEOPLE!

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gwaping

May 19th, 2006 at 1:54 pm

…short of saying, hayaan muna nating hindi makabili ng murang gamot ang mga mahihirap, UNAHIN muna natin ang pagtanggal kay Gloria….hayaan muna nating mamatay ang mga hindi nakakabili ng mga mahal na gamot, ang mahalaga ay maiayos ang mga karapatan ng nakararami….MAY PANAHON PARA KAY GLORIA, MAY PANAHON PARA SA POLITIKA…..PERO TEKA BIGYAN MUNA NATIN NG PANSIN ANG PANG-ARAW-ARAW NA PANGANGAILANGAN…

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » Group formed to push for public’s right to affordable medicines

May 24th, 2006 at 4:45 pm

[…] AGAP has also thrown its full support behind the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and two of its officials in their efforts to avail of the Doha declaration’s flexibilities, for which the two government agencies are now facing a legal suit filed by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for a patent infringement case involving the anti-hypertension drug amlodipine besylate. […]

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m38manila

June 4th, 2006 at 11:06 am

Oh such misunderstanding.

If you really want to know why medicines in this country are so high. Think about the;
1. Culture and
2. Effectiveness of the government.

Doctors are aware of cheaper prescription brands or more affordable alternative drugs to treat the same condition with the same eficacy. But why do they continue to write expensive ones? Simple answer – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. You need sponsorship to travel to a convention abroad – I need to pay for it and still make profit through sales (AKA prescriptions). And this type of activity, or other forms of it, are not restricted to multi-nationals either. The local companies are just as good at it.

In 1994 one US dollar would by 24 pesos. Today one USD buys 55 pesos. This is the governments doing. Cost of goods therefore become much greater especially when companies try to keep profits offshore by utilizing transfer prices to the extent that the objective is to keep profits virtually zero locally. If you need an explanation for this part of the equation let me know.

Regards

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