June 17, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Panel approves pharmaceutical innovation bill

THE House Committee on Health chaired by Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr. on Wednesday approved House Bill (HB) 9867, principally authored by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, which seeks to accelerate the discovery and development of innovative medicines.

Gato said that for more affordable and wider array of medicines, there is a need to look closely in the present regulation and clinical trial activities. 

“There is a clamor to improve our access to innovative medicines by assessing and redesigning the present clinical trial system and possibly by establishing a center which shall serve as a pharmaceutical hub for medical research and development,” said Gato, a co-author of the bill.

In the explanatory note of HB 9867, Romualdez said the passage of Republic Act 11223, or the Universal Health Care Act, made it the government’s policy to adopt a healthcare model that provides every Filipino with cost-effective, quality, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services. 

“In line with this policy, the conduct of clinical trials has been recognized as a scientific and research-based approach that helps medical researchers and developers optimize benefits, reduce risks and ensure the safety and efficacy of innovative medicines,” the Speaker said.

He lamented recent data showing a steep decline beginning 2014 in the number of new clinical trials conducted in the Philippines. The decline not only widened the gap between the country and other leading countries, but more importantly contributed to the inaccessibility of innovative medicines to Filipinos, with only one of the 166 innovative medicines launched internationally being added into the Philippine National Formulary.

“As such, there is a need to revitalize the Philippines as a regional center of excellence in the field of clinical trials and improve access to innovative medicines by building and redesigning our clinical trial system, through the establishment of an Experimental Drug Development and Discovery Center,” he said.

Deputy Majority Leader and Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre, also a co-author of HB 9867, to be known as the Pharmaceutical Innovation Act, said the measure would also position the Philippines to be a global leader in research, which will have far reaching implications on the country’s healthcare system, economy and international standing. 

Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez is also a co-author of the bill. 

Officials of relevant government agencies, as well as health care and pharmaceutical establishments, expressed their support for HB 9867 during the hearing, enumerating its potential benefits for the country. 

Dr. Diana Edralin, president of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines, cited challenges in the review timelines, limited infrastructure and support mechanisms, as well as lack of public disease registries as factors that have impacted on the country’s clinical trial competitiveness affecting patient access (to medicines). 

“The bill holds potential to address these (challenges), positioning the Philippines as the center of clinical trials in the region,” she said.

The Philippine Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry saw the advantages of the bill, encouraging advancement in health care, economic growth, access to new medicines, as well as in the research and development ecosystem in the Philippines and inter-agency collaboration and coordination