Commentary: Medicines Bill - Most docs balk, some don't mind
By Danny O. Sagun
Dagupan City (13 February) -- Medical practitioners are split over that controversial provision in the House version of the cheaper medicines bill which mandates doctors to indicate only generic names of medicines in their prescription slips.
Even some government doctors do not toe the line of the health department while some private practitioners do not see anything wrong with the virtual amendment to the Generics Act of 1988. The generics law allows physicians to prescribe both generic and brand names of drugs.
Is it true that doctors are stripped of their right to dispense the best drug for their patients by allowing them only to write the generic name? And is it true that such right is already transferred to the pharmacist or sales lady or clerk? The Pangasinan Medical Society and the Philippine Medical Association have voiced out these concerns, as revealed by Dr. Leo Carbonnell, a government physician, during our interview with him last Tuesday.
While doctors are still responsible or accountable to their patients, they could no longer exercise their right to give the best medication or to give their patients the right to choose. Experience shows that not all medicines have the same efficacy or effectiveness although they may have common ingredients, Carbonell noted.
Also alarming is the proliferation of fake drugs apparently due to lack of monitoring of drug companies by concerned government agencies. Unscrupulous businessmen might have taken advantage of the poor and inadequate facilities of the Bureau of Food and Drugs aside from the lack of manpower, thus the presence of fake or ineffective drugs in the market.
The generics law has been here for two decades now but its objective has yet to be fully realized, he said. If only the BFD is as capable as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, he sighed.
Is it true that doctors are being pampered by multinational drug companies? And is it true that they get a cut for favoring certain brands?
If ever there are incentives, those are secondary, claimed Don Doria of the provincial health office. The main consideration of physicians is the well-being of their patients and they do that by dispensing the correct and best medication as per their knowledge and experience in prescribing various drugs.
The bill wanted to provide us lower-priced medicines. We all wish for that. A medicine that costs P20 here only costs P2 in India. Why? Multinationals are blamed for this with all their aggressive promotional activities.
Then by all means, government should do all it can to bring down the prices of drugs. If India or Pakistan can, then we can also do it. Government should also strengthen BFD.
Beside food and cellphone load, health is among the basic concerns of many a Filipino family. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]