Philippines: Local pharma pushes for amendments to existing patent rules

Jun. 25, 2007

MANILA — The Philippine Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry (PCPI) urges the
Senate and the House of Representatives to immediately agree on the
common provisions of the proposed bill amending the Intellectual
Property Code (IPC) to bring immediate relief to the people and try to
address the divergence by filing a separate bill in the next Congress.

The local pharmaceutical industry also urges Speaker Jose de Venecia
to immediately convene the House of Representatives to pass the
Cheaper Medicines Bill on third reading and eventually convene the
bicameral conference for the consolidation of the bill before the
official session of the 13th Congress ends on June 30.

“The sooner the legislators agree on the common provisions of the law
amending the patent rules on medicines, the sooner it will bring
benefits to the public through the entry of cheaper and quality
medicines into the market,” said Marilou Buensuceso, PCPI President.

The Philippine drug industry is particularly supportive of the law’s
Early Working provision or Bolar amendments, similar to the US laws.
This will allow the local pharmaceutical industry to start developing
an equivalent but cheaper drug even before the patent right of foreign
pharmaceutical company expires.

The law, amending the existing patent rules will allow parallel
importation of inexpensive versions of patented medicines currently
available elsewhere in the world and limit the scope of patentable
medicines preventing pharmaceutical companies from making minor
modifications to medicines and then re-patent the medicines to prevent
consumers from gaining access to inexpensive, generic versions.

“We support the efforts of our legislators to uphold public health in
applying the patent rules on drugs and medicines. The proposed bill
will allow fair competition of equivalent generic drugs that will
eventually lead to reduction of prices and the people will have better
access to life-saving medicines,” said Buensuceso.

The PCPI is composed of local drug manufacturers taking steps to
encourage fair and healthy competition that will lead to more
affordable drugs and better quality of medicines. It believes that
affordable medicines will broaden accessibility and promote “better”
patient compliance that will lead to a healthier Filipino nation.

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