By Catherine S Valente Manila Times
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest those behind the spread of fake medicines in the market, his top legal counsel said yesterday.
Duterte issued the directive after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public about the proliferation of fake Biogesic brand of 500mg paracetamol tablets in the market.
“The president has ordered the Chief PNP (Director General Ronald de la Rosa) to arrest all persons who manufacture, import, distribute, sell, administer, dispense fake drugs,” Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told reporters in an interview.
Panelo said Duterte wanted to file economic sabotage charges against the culprits.
“They will be charged with economic sabotage because those acts undermine not only the economy because it will affect the law of supply and demand and affect the prices, but it also threatens the security of the nation because it endangers the health of the people. That is why to the president’s mind, these people should be arrested and charged for economic sabotage,” he said.
The president’s lawyer cited a 2011 study that drugs and medicines accounted for 46% of total medical out-of-pocket expenses of Philippine households.
“Substandard and falsified medicines have become a global pandemic, impacting the safety of patients around the world. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s medicines are counterfeit on average, with peaks of up to 70% in developing countries,” Panelo said.
He warned that the presence of fake medicines could result in “considerable loss of government revenues, specifically in the form of taxes.”
On Monday, the FDA warned consumers against the purchase and consumption of counterfeit Biogesic paracetamol 500mg tablets.
“All healthcare professionals and the general public are hereby warned as to the availability of this counterfeit drug product in the market, which poses potential danger or injury to consumers,” the FDA said.
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