How to legally kill Filipinos and profit from it
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-01-29
The schemers in the House forced a midnight provision in their Cheaper Medicines Bill which sought to compel physicians to prescribe only generics. If passed, this ‘GENERICS ONLY’ provision of the House Cheaper Medicines Bill will kill more Filipinos than dangerous drugs.

The House’s ‘GENERICS ONLY’ provision empowers pharmacists and even the drugstore clerk to select our medications, rendering our physicians inutile in extending their expertise and knowledge to critical and life-threatening situations. I shudder to imagine the many terrifying consequences that can happen from this unthinkably stupid proposition.

Take my case. I am a kidney transplant patient. To sustain my borrowed kidney, I have to take two immuno suppression drugs everyday for the rest of my life. If I don’t take my medication at the same designated time and at the same designated dose everyday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., I risk a 99 to 1 chance of suffering a kidney rejection. I will then be wrecking coffins, instead of chairs.

My 10 a.m. anti-rejection medication is a Cyclosporine sold under the brand name Neoral. My 2 p.m. anti-rejection medication is a Sirolimus sold under the brand name Rapamune. Both drugs are costly. The Rapamune alone, taken at 2 p.m., costs me P420 a tablet a day.

If Iloilo Representative Ferjenel Biron and his ‘Generics Gang’ have their way, I can no longer bring a prescription to Mercury Drug for my daily dose of Rapamune. My prescription must now state Sirolimus (not Rapamune) and it will be up to an untrained clerk at Mercury Drug (or any of those new botika ng bayan outlets) who will then decide what Sirolimus I will take.

Considering how quickly anything fake and substandard can proliferate in this market (given our experience with pirated films, branded bags and signature eyeglasses) — poor quality generic drugs will no sooner fill the market before you can even say ‘Ferjenel Biron!’

Of course, it is easy for generics to make a killing since they do not invest in R&D. They can therefore even price their Bombay-made alternative from India or Pakistan for a fraction of the cost of Rapamune. Who knows, coming from India, the Sirolimus may even be curry-flavored!

It is very possible that Sirolimus can be imported from the Indian Subcontinent for as low as P50 per tablet. Adding a 150% profit for the local importer, they can sell this to me for just P250 per and still offer the drug store clerk a P30 incentive for pushing the generic alternative.

On the surface, this sounds like good economics. As a Sirolimus consumer, I will save P170 a day or P62,050 a year. The local Sirolimus generic alternative importer will make a 150% return on his investment while the drug store clerk will make P30 a day for pushing the Generic alternative to me.

But what happens if that Sirolimus generic alternative is a fake (and fakes have been known to characterize poorly-policed generic drug industries) or radically substandard? That means that when I allow myself to be suckered into that GENERICS ONLY House version of the Cheaper Medicines Bill — I am also volunteering myself to be the subject in a game of Russian roulette!

Well, thanks for the savings but on second thought — damn you Congressmen but no thanks!

I do not exaggerate and my medical condition is not an isolated case at all. The dangers present in my medical case will be repeated in many more other medical cases all over the country and will put many Filipino lives at risk.

When you cease buying Coumadin (an anti-coagulant that ensures that your blood does not thicken and puts you at risk for phlebitis or a stroke) for cheap Bombay-made curry-flavored blood thinners, don’t sport that wide-eyed surprised look of Rodney Dangerfield inside your casket after you collapse on your way to work.

In fact, the more sensitive the disease you have, the greater the danger that these substandard or fake generic drugs will kill you.

This ‘GENERICS ONLY’ provision effectively legalizes a form of mass murder and sentences the poorest of our poor to death by ignorance. This is even worse than dangerous drugs. At least in the case of dangerous drugs, the users understand the trouble that they are getting themselves into.

Once ‘GENERICS ONLY’ is passed into law, many Filipinos will not even know what is causing deaths and deterioration of health.

We Filipinos have long established a reputation for shooting ourselves in the foot. This tops everything else we did in the past. This one is like blasting ourselves in the temple with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Our present plunderers have exceeded themselves this time. Marcos and his band of 40 thieves impoverished us with their itchy fingers. But Marcos had never done anything so evil as to compromise our lives and safety for the sake of profit.

This ‘GENERICS ONLY’ law, if passed, will exceed all the exploitation and predation we’ve had in the past. This is evolved evil, a legalization of greed and bloody murder!

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