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97 medicines to be sold at 50% off starting March 31—DoH

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:42:00 02/26/2010

Filed Under: Medicines, Government, Health, Consumer Issues

MANILA, Philippines – At least 97 medicines will be sold at half their original prices starting March 31, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral announced Friday.

Cabral said drug companies agreed to lower the cost of medicines for hypertension and chronic diseases, bladder and prostate disorders, hepatitis, asthma, depression and psychotic and mental disorders, as well as some medical equipment and fluids for dialysis.

Drug stores are advised to dispose of their stock of these medicines that were bought at higher prices a month ago, said Cabral.

Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas, who co-authored the Cheaper Medicines Law, said these drugs were chosen because they were being used daily by Filipinos.

“Ang mga gamot na pinili ay yung madalas kailangan at mas mataas ang presyo ang benta sa atin kumpara sa ibang bansa [The drugs chosen for mediated pricing are those that are used frequently and were sold at higher prices in other countries]. This is one way to make our drugs available at the drug stores and accessible to the public at the same time,” said Roxas.

“The savings from these maintenance drugs will result in tangible savings for Filipino households. For example, Vytorin a brand of maintenance drug against high cholesterol costs P202 per tablet before but will now be sold at P101. The savings from this can enable a Filipino household to buy three kilos of tilapia or rice daily. For Losartan potassium, an anti-hypertensive, we are able to reduce its price from P43 to P22 – and the savings can allow a family to buy two cans of sardines,” said Roxas.

Under the new government mediated drug pricing, Roxas added that cancer patients could save up to P3,600 when they buy Zoladex, an anti-cancer injectible solution, since it could be purchased at P6,800 from P10,400 per 3.6 milligram solution.

Cabral said DoH expected up to P2 billion in savings from the price reductions of the 97 medicines.

“The average price reduction is 50 percent but some companies offered to give up to 70 percent off on some medicines. This would allow P2 billion in overall savings,” said Cabral.

Senior citizens will be able to buy the drugs at the government mediated prices and get an additional 20 percent discount, as mandated under the recently passed Expanded Senior Citizens Law, said Cabral.

But Roxas and Cabral said there was much to do to make medicines accessible to more Filipinos such as strengthening the generics industry in the country to create a healthy competitive pricing with branded medicines.

“The government-mediated drug pricing is only one measure in letting more Filipinos to afford medicines. We also need to intensify our generic brands which have counterparts for almost 80 percent of branded drugs sold in the country. Hand in hand with this, our doctors should also be able to prescribe generics to patients, instead of prioritizing branded medicines,” said Roxas.

The DoH is also looking into reducing prices of medicines for cardiovascular diseases.

Cabral said DoH would soon post the list of half-priced medicines in all drug stores nationwide and hotlines will be available to consumers wanting to report violators, who can be fined up to P5 million.

Seventy-two medicine products were sold 50 percent off in August 2009, including drugs against hypertension, diabetes, influenza, high cholesterol, cancer, arthritis, goiter, allergies and infections.

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60,000 poll machines pass stress tests, ready for polls—Comelec

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:15:00 02/25/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Computing & Information Technology

MANILA, Philippines—Over 60,000 poll machines are ready to be used for the first-ever national automated polls in May, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo announced on Thursday.

Melo made the announcement after his visit to the Comelec warehouse in Laguna. Melo expressed satisfaction over the results of the laboratory stress tests and other operational tests conducted on the machines. Read the rest of this entry »

6M ballots printed for May polls –Comelec exec

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:39:00 02/25/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Politics, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Six million ballots for the May automated polls were printed at the National printing Office as of Thursday, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

The 6,037,038 ballots will be used in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the provinces of Bohol, Batanes, Palawan, Masbate among others, the NPO said. Read the rest of this entry »

Comelec installs security features on ballots

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:09:00 02/25/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Politics

MANILA, Philippines — To ensure that the ballots would go to its designated municipality and voting precincts, the Commission on Elections has installed redundant security features to the ballots such as putting them in vacuum sealed packages, Chairman Jose Melo said.

During his visit to the National Printing Office on Thursday, Melo told media that they would use vacuum technology to ensure that the printed ballots would be safe from humidity and harsh temperatures that might destroy their security markings and UV ink. Read the rest of this entry »

First automated overseas voting in HK and Singapore set April 10
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net First Posted 16:45:00 02/24/2010 Filed Under: Elections, Overseas Absentee Voting, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is gearing up for the conduct of the first automated overseas absentee voting in Hong Kong and Singapore come April 10, an official said Wednesday.

Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco, who heads the committee on overseas absentee voting (COAV), said the poll agency would visit the two countries to educate personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on how to operate the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines when they perform poll duties as deputized staff for OAV for the May polls. DFA was tapped to cut travel expenses. Read the rest of this entry »

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Comelec adds printer at NPO to speed up ballot printing

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:28:00 02/24/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday they will be renting an additional printing press to fast-track the printing of ballots for the May automated elections.

Chairman Jose Melo said they made the move to “make up for the slight delay in printing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Proclaim winners first before manual audit–Comelec

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:16:00 02/24/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Wednesday maintained that the random manual audit of results in the May automated polls would be done only after the proclamation of winners.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the random manual audit is provided under Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law. But he said it should be done only after the proclamation of winners. Read the rest of this entry »


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