The 214-member organization has called on Bukidnon congressmen to oppose the provision calling it "a slap on the face to the medical profession" and a "monument of oppression of the patients' right to health."
"We will not let this pass sitting down as our rights and profession are undermined," Dr. Pol Murillo, BMS head said in a press conference at Taipan Hotel on January 22.
The doctors clarified they favor the bill and are only opposing the provision that prohibits them from including brand names of drugs in prescriptions..
Section 33 of the Cheap Medicines bill, filed by Rep. Ferjenel Biron, states: "Section 6 of Republic Act No. 6675 is hereby amended to read as follows: "(b) all medical, dental, and veterinary practitioners, including private practitioners shall write prescriptions using the generic name of the drug or medicine only and its brand name shall not appear on any part of the prescription."
"This provision not only tramples upon our basic freedom, i.e. the freedom of choice, but more significantly, also seriously undermines the effectiveness of our treatment as it will result to confusion among our patients on what brand of medicine to purchase," Murillo said in a statement he read to reporters.
The group sent a resolution to Reps. Candido Pancrudo, Teofisto Guingona III and Jose Ma. Zubiri III urging them to vote for the rejection of the portion.
Murillo and eight others in the panel from various medical groups in the province defended their stand amidst allegations they are receiving incentives from distributors of branded drugs.
They confirmed that drug distributors do offer incentives but claimed that these are mostly rejected as these are a "big no."
"Those who offer incentives probably have dubious products since they find the need for it," Murillo said.
"I feel offended when they offer these incentives," Dr. Angeles Yap, president of the Bukidnon Association of Internists and Cardiologists, said.
"We are not attached to the incentives offered to us," another doctor said.
Yap cited efficacy, safety and price as considerations in their choice of drugs.
She said they prescribe branded medicines because they want the best for their valued patients, they know how their patients react to certain medications and they know the track record of these drugs.
The doctors also cited a World Health Organization report that around 40 percent of medicines without brand names are counterfeit drugs.
"We physicians choose a particular medicine, branded or generic, because we know that either its manufacturer is ethical and trustworthy and or our experience tells us that this particular brand of medicine provides the desired effects and works best for our patient," the doctors said in their statement.
They declared that physicians ultimately are responsible for the care of the patient, and that the choice and/or selection of appropriate drugs must remain under their control.
They are instead supporting the full implementation of the generic drugs law to ensure that cheaper, safe and effective medicines are available. They are also backing the Senate version of the bill proposing to bring down the prices of medicine by amending the country's intellectual property code.
The group urged legislators to reject the provision as the government also lacks infrastructure to ensure drug safety and efficacy and to pass a law creating a Drug Quality Council.
Murillo announced the doctors will run a motorcade from Malaybalay City to Don Carlos, Bukidnon on January 27, Sunday, to increase awareness on the issue. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)