For cheaper meds

January 01, 2019
Imee Marcos

Imee bats for VAT exemptions for all medicines, calls for review of Cheaper Medicine Act.

ILOCOS Norte Gov. Imee Marcos yesterday called for the exemption from the value added tax (VAT) of all medicines to make health services more affordable to the Filipino people as she pushed for a review of the Cheaper Medicines Act.

“Para sa darating na taon, nais kong tuluyan nang maalis ang VAT sa mga gamot. Kung matatanggal ang VAT sa gamot, malaki ang ibababa ng presyo ng mga gamot at higit na maraming mga kababayan nating mahihirap ang makakabili nito,” Marcos said.

She lamented that the Cheaper Medicines Act, or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, failed to make medicines more affordable to the people because of provisions included in the law that favor the interests of big pharmaceutical companies in the country.

“We need to revise the Cheaper Medicines Act and make it more people-friendly as originally intended. Ang daming nag-lobby na iba’t-ibang pharmaceutical companies at mga kapanalig nilang komersyante nung ginagawa ang batas kaya hindi nito  nakamit ang tunay niyang vision -- ang ibaba sa abot kaya ang presyo ng mga gamot para mas maraming mahirap na Pilipino ang makabili nito,” Marcos said. “ Walang Pilipino ang dapat mamatay sa sakit dahil  hindi abot kaya ang presyo ng gamot,” she added.

The Cheaper Medicines Act was enacted into law with the end-goal of making medicines more affordable and accessible to the people, especially the poor who cannot afford to buy expensive prescription drugs for their illnesses. But 10 years after the law was passed, prices of medical drugs, especially for critical diseases and illnesses, remain exorbitant.

Marcos said that to drastically bring down the prices of medicines, removing the VAT imposed on all medical drugs is necessary. She said the VAT exemption on the sale of vital medicines for diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension will not be enough. “Hindi sapat ang VAT exemption sa mga gamot para sa diabetes, cholesterol at hypertension. Kailangan lahat ng gamot ay maging VAT exempt na para bumaba ang presyo nila,” she stressed.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law, mandates the removal of the 12 percent VAT on medicines for diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. The exemption takes effect on January 1, 2019.

The VAT exemption will apply to the “sale by manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers” of the medicines, which will be identified by the Food and Drug Authority.