Eufe Tantia, vice-president of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines, claimed that his association’s member companies have engaged and invested in research and development to discover innovative medicines and provide better treatment opportunity for patients with lesser costs.
Tantia said that the research-based companies have produced innovations “by making changes in molecules that bring about significant changes and benefits to patients.”
The PHAP executive has brought up the statements during the launching of the Philippine Generics Medicines Expo on Wednesday (Oct. 20) which was opened to the public at SM City Davao.
The Department of Health in the region spearheaded the expo which aimed to “boost and sustain advocacy on quality affordable medicines through generics use and its role and importance in improving wellness and compliance of patients to treatment regimens.”
Tantia, in his message during the expo program, lauded the DOH for continuing the advocacy and public information “to make people aware of the availability of low price generic medicines as provided for under Section 11 of the Generics Act.”
Tantia believed that while generic products are being promoted, “we should also consider the contributions of the research-based companies” saying “because it is a fact that without the discoveries of the research companies, there would be no generic products.”
He cited for instance that the “development of a complicated mechanism that allows patients of Chlamydia trachoma to take antibiotic in a single dose and delivered many years worth of cure for blindness.” He stressed’it is an important innovation.”
According to Tantia, a company also spared epilepsy patients from seizures “not simply because researchers have developed drugs for epilepsy, but because they have found a noble way of manufacturing the product safely.”
He said that some of these products for epilepsy therapy “could not be manufactured easily” adding that one of the products for epilepsy has to be manufactured in a very high temperature which makes the product dangerous.
He stated that the company has found a process and developed a system to produce this product safely.
Tantia also made mention that “patients suffering from angina have been saved from stabbing pains” because researchers have developed to “lengthen the potency and therapeutic benefits of the drugs to the body.”
Another contribution of a research-based company, he disclosed, was making a person living with the HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) to survive for years.
He said this was not just because of the discovery of drugs, but also “because it was made possible by the team of researchers to find a way to surmount the low susceptibility of a compound that could not previously taken orally.”
“This is the reason why there are oral products for HIV/AIDS,” he explained.
Meanwhile, DOH Secretary Enrique Ona has disclosed in a press release that “the 1988 Generics Act had achieved a lot in correcting misconceptions on generic medicines.”
Ona claimed that the most recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveyed showed that “generic medicines are now presently patronized by about 55 per cent of the population as compared to only 47% in 2003.”
He translated that “about five or six out of ten Filipinos are now using generic medicines.”
Ona stated that “for the past three years, the DOH has collaborated with different partners, pharmaceutical institutions and various stakeholders in its efforts to promote generics.”
DOH press release said that there are generics drugs for the treatment of hypertension, allergy, high cholesterol, infections, and many more priced 30%-80% lower than their branded counterparts.
It said that among the beneficiaries of generic medicines were 300 children living with leukemia who were served generic anti-cancer drugs during the pilot implementation in 14 DOH hospitals in partnership with the Cancer Warrior Foundation.
Without generic medicines, DOH further said, “these would have only benefited 60 patients for the same amount due to leukemia’s high cost of treatment.”
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was represented by City Administrator Atty. Zuleika Lopez during the expo activity, said that “generic medicines play a big role in alleviating the prohibitive cost of medicines and medical services.”
“It’s a big help not only to the underprivileged members of the society but it is also a big help to those who are on maintenance medication on a regular basis,” Duterte-Carpio stated.
The mayor encouraged the public to “help to sustain the advocacy on quality, affordable medicine so as to enable the generic medicine industry to grow and reach more Filipinos.”
DOH Regional Director Teogenes Baluma informed that the expo held at SM City Davao was the third leg of a series of launching in the country, saying that the first to launch was Cebu which was held in August, and the second one was conducted in September at Clark.
Baluma assured the public that generic medicines are “in high quality, safe and effective.”