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Medicine bawl

/ 05:07 AM August 22, 2017

Aside from drug abuse among the youth, the motorbiking Duterte Harley may just have to open up another front in his war: The lucrative market in counterfeit drugs.

One report in the Wall Street Journal estimated the value of fake medicine sold here at more than P8 billion a year—and growing fast.

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According to TechTrace, the Swiss company in the information business for fighting illicit trade and counterfeiting, fake drugs already became one of the fastest growing and most lucrative income sources for organized crime worldwide.

One literature on counterfeit medicine warned: “It may be contaminated or contain the wrong or no active ingredient. They could have the right active ingredient but at the wrong dose. Counterfeit drugs are illegal and may be harmful to your health.”

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There—the thing with fake medicine was, first and foremost, it could kill people. TechTrace estimated more than a million deaths a year worldwide.

Here the proliferation of fake medicines already turned into police matter under Duterte Harley, and you know how the police handled things under him.

That was perhaps why the Food and Drugs Administration, or FDA, under its young director general handpicked by Duterte Harley, its first non-doctor boss named Nela Charade Puno, tapped the PNP to launch a massive campaign against counterfeit goods— i.e. medicines, food items and cosmetics.

The FDA has established that the fake drugs came mainly from China and India. In short, smuggled! Uh-oh, the Bureau of Customs again!

But it also discovered that, aside from over-the-counter sales, the marketing was done by legitimate outfits hiding behind the secrecy of internet sales.

To stop the trend, the FDA needed an ocean of money, which it did not have, more so because its mother unit, the Department of Health, even cut its budget.

By the way, the DOH also cut the budgets of some 50 government hospitals, and still Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial reportedly was confident on her “confirmation” by the Commission on Appointments.

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The CA of course rejected Judy Taguiwalo as head of DSWD for no apparent reason, although Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who headed the House of Representatives group in the CA, said that Taguiwalo was not fit for the job.

In what way? Well, according to Zamora, she would not even question the massive funding in the DSWD for the doleout program, conditional cash transfer, or CCT.

And all the while I thought that Congress should have asked the question, since it was the job of Congress to allot or not to allot the billions for CCT.

There—despite being clean and all, Taguiwalo was not fit for the job, because she did not do the job that Congress was supposed to do.

Still her boss, Duterte Harley, went all out for Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, despite the latter’s admission that the “3 o’clock habit” remained in the BOC under his watch.

Anyway, under Duterte Harley, the FDA refused to bawl over its lack of funding to stop the proliferation of counterfeit medicine, even when the DOH cut its budget for law enforcement.

It is up to you to determine whether or not the DOH cut the budget to protect syndicates in the fake drug racket.

In the past year or so, however, the FDA regulatory reinforcement unit (REU) already seized millions of pesos worth of the counterfeit products— even including fake ball pens.

Now the FDA, which last week celebrated its 54th anniversary, had this “Regulatory and Advocacy Fair,” showing how the agency cut red tapes in its systems.

That should be good news to the P190-billion a year local pharmaceutical industry, particularly the small companies, mostly owned by Filipinos, which must get FDA approval for their products.

It was bad news to the “facilitators” in and out of FDA, who reportedly already launched a demolition job against the agency, particularly its head Puno, similar to the recent smear campaign by a big foreign company against her, because she stood her ground regarding the FDA ban on its product.

As for Duterte Harley, the FDA campaign against fake drugs seemed to be the kind of war that he would love.

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