Villar wants free cancer meds for all patients

Shielo Mendoza
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Senator Manuel Villar, chairman of the Senate oversight committee on quality affordable medicine, wants the government to provide free medicines to Filipinos suffering from cancer.
 
“Ang isang Pilipino ay hindi dapat mamatay, lalong-lalo na iyong may kanser nang hindi man lamang nagkakaroon ng pagkakataon na makakuha ng gamot. Kaya naniniwala ako na kapag cancer, dapat libre,” Villar told reporters Monday.
 
Villar noted that his proposal is “doable” and that the national budget is enough to shoulder the expenses for the free medicines. He added that the government can buy the medicine in bulk so it would be cheaper.
 
“Ako ay nananawagan na sana ay mailagay iyan sa programa subalit iyan ay nasa sa pangulo na. Napag-aralan ko na iyan noon. Hindi naman ganoon kalakihan ang magagastos diyan. Naniniwala akong kaya ng budget iyan at marami tayong pwedeng bawasan para mailagay diyan,” he said.
 
Villar has also proposed to scrap the value added tax imposed on prices of medicine. He said his son, Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar, already filed a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives to lower or eliminate the VAT on medicine.
 
“Hindi naman talaga dapat na patungan pa ng VAT ang gamot. Iyon naman ay talagang napakahalaga sa ating buhay, at hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit naisama iyan sa VAT,” he said.
 
The senator made these proposals after he lamented that the Cheaper Medicines Act is being “sabotaged” and not properly implemented.
 
“Maraming responsable. Nakikita ko halimbawa ang DOH na hindi masyadong napapatupad ito. Parang binabalewala itong batas na ito,” Villar said, adding that his committee will continue to investigate which pharmaceutical companies are violating the law.
 
Villar claims that of the five medicines the Senate committee on trade and commerce looked into, only one lowered its price since the cheaper medicine was enacted into law in 2008.
 
Currently, Norvasc can be bought at P23 compared to P44 in 2008 while prices of Plendil, Ventolin, Ponstan and Bactrim all increased.
 
Villar, however, pointed out that the price of Norvasc was decreased because its patent protection ended and not because of the cheaper medicine act.
 
“Hindi ako titigil hangga't hindi nakakagawa ng rekomendasyon ang aking committee dito sa implementasyon ng batas na ito. Mahalaga na masiguro natin na bumaba ang presyo ng gamot,” he said.