DOH to probe harassment charges vs. Pfizer

Friday, November 13, 2009

ACTOR/comedian Subas Herrero on Friday expressed dismay that the leading drugstore chain in the country refuses to sell medicines that are priced lower than those sold by multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Herrero, speaking as a consumer, said he is heavily burdened because the maintenance drugs he has been taking since being diagnosed as diabetic and suffering a stroke several years ago cost P30,000 a month.

“I cannot work because of my condition,” Herrero told mediamen at the weekly forum, Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt. He came on a wheel chair to share his experiences as an outpatient.
He said he practically begged his children to support his maintenance medicine.

According to Herrero, he is a victim of the shortage in distribution because Mercury Drug, the largest local drug retailer, does not carry cheaper medicines than Pfizer products.

It developed that the Esguerra and Blanco Law Office has filed a motion asking South Star Drug, Watsons, Rose Pharmacy and Amesco Drugs of Davao to cease and desist from selling generic versions of Atorvastatin calcium.

The law office’s client is Pfizer Philippines, whose sale of Atorvastatin calcium, a medicine to lower cholesterol, has been greatly affected by the success of its generic version in the market.
In their letter to the four drug chains dated October 7, 2009, the lawyers of the firm claimed that Pfizer Philippines, which is the exclusive distributor of Warner Lambert products, is “the registered owner of patents covering Atorvastatin calcium.”

“We are informed that your establishment is selling and distributing generic versions of Atorvastatin calcium. Said generic version of Atorvastatin calcium were manufactured, imported, distributed and sold without our clients’ authority and consent, and infringe our clients’ existing patent and exclusive distribution rights, thus causing grave and irreparable damage and injury to them,” the letter signed by the counsel of the law firm said.

Dr. Robert Louie So, chief of the National Drug Policy under the Department of Health, who is among the resource speakers, said that this was the first time he heard about the alleged harassment.

“We need concrete and hard evidences against anybody to make the case stand. If we found prima facie evidence, we will file appropriate charges under the existing law,” So told newsmen.
Herrero claimed that he can no longer sustained the high prize of Lipitor, the product name of Atorvastatin calcium manufactured by Pfizer and he is looking for its generic version with the same effect but cheaper in price.

Herrero further said that distribution of cheap medicines is the main problem of the Health department and must double check why Mercury Drug does not carry the generic versions of some of the drugs manufactured by Pfizer. Read the original article here

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