New Medicines Bill in the Philippines

In February 2007, the Philippine Senate passed the bill SB2263. This bill shortens the period of patent protection, legalizes parallel importation, allows local generic companies to experiment with drug formulations before patents expire and allows various other actions to help lower drug prices. However, for this Senate bill to become law, the House of Representatives must also pass a parallel bill.

The parallel bill in the House, HB 6035, is very similar to SB2263. HB 6035 would allow parallel importation of cheaper drugs and medicines from abroad whose local patents have not expired. In addition, generic drug manufacturers would be allowed to experiment, produce and register patented drugs before the expiration date of the patents. This way, generic drug companies could immediately market their product after patent expiration.

However, HB 6035 also aims at establishing a Drug Price Regulatory Board to lower prices of select medicines for chronic illnesses. The Philippine Department of Health has stated that they are not in favor of this price regulatory board, and would prefer to leave drug prices subject to free market forces.

Due to the lack of a quorum during the final Congress session in June, HB 6035 was not passed during the 13th Congress. The bill has been re-submitted for the 14th Congress, whose first session will be in late July 2007.