Duterte to PNP: Catch makers, sellers of fake medicines

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte ordered police to arrest those who manufacture and sell fake medicines, announced Malacañang on Wednesday, March 28.

"The President ordered the PNP chief to arrest persons who manufacture, import, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, distribute fake drugs and charge them with economic sabotage," said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in a statement.

Duterte's order comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public, through a recent advisory, against counterfeit Biogesic paracetamol 500-milligram tablets.

In his statement, Panelo emphasized that almost half of the out-of-pocket medical expenses of Filipino households is for medicines. The percentage is even higher, 55%, for poor households.

He said makers and sellers of fake medicines can be charged with economic sabotage because of the impact of the sale of such counterfeit products on consumers and the pharmaceutical industry.

"Aside from the health risks posed by fake medicines, the proliferation of fake medicines, [particularly] the basic medicine of paracetamol, can affect the supply and demand of such commodity, and thereby affect the stability of prices," he said.

Such practices also "weaken the national economy by hitting a large-scale industry," said Panelo.

The FDA lauded Malacañang on Sunday, April 1, for cracking down on fake medicines.

"The President’s backing has given us an even stronger resolve to put a stop to this practice which endangers the well-being of the public...We will further intensify the joint operations between the FDA and the PNP," FDA chief Director General Charade Puno said in a statement on Sunday.

Puno then urged  the public to trust only government-licensed pharmacies and purchase only products with a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR). – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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