By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest persons involved in the manufacture, importation, trade, administering, dispensing, delivering, distributing counterfeit drugs and charge them with economic sabotage.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said President Duterte ordered the crackdown, noting that the proliferation of fake medicines poses threats on public health and the economy.
“The President ordered the PNP Chief (Director General Ronald dela Rosa) to arrest persons who manufacture, import, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, distribute, fake drugs and charge them with economic sabotage,” Panelo said.
“The purchase and use of the fake medicines, including fake paracetamol, pose potential danger or injury to consumers,” he added.
Aside from the health risks, Panelo warned about the economic repercussions of the proliferation of fake medicines.
He said counterfeit medicines could affect the supply and demand of such commodity, and consequently disrupt the stability of prices.
“The scale at which the pharmaceutical industry of the Philippines may be affected can also result in considerable loss of government revenues, specifically in the form of taxes,” he said.
“In relation to the definition of economic sabotage as provided for by PD 1404 as well as other laws, the importation, sale, trade, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of fake or adulterated drugs do not only undermine or weaken the national economy by hitting a large scale industry, they also threaten national security by endangering the health of a vast majority of the people hence the said acts constitute economic sabotage,” he added.
He said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already earned the public against the purchase and consumption of counterfeit drugs, particularly paracetamol tablets.
Citing a 2011 study, Panelo said medicines account for 46 percent of the total medical out-of-pocket expenses of Filipino households.
He noted that substandard and falsified medicines have become a global pandemic, impacting the safety of patients around the world. “It is estimated that 10 percent of the world’s medicines are counterfeit on average, with peaks of up to 70 percent in developing countries,” he added.