Gov’t urged to arrest medicine hoarders, price manipulators

A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Thursday urged authorities to run after and arrest hoarders and price manipulators of medicines used to treat coronavirus disease (Covid-19) symptoms amid the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Quezon City Representative Precious Hipolito Castelo said there are laws, regulations, and even local ordinances prohibiting hoarding and price manipulation of drugs and other important consumer products.

Castelo also said enforcement should be a combined effort of the concerned agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, Philippine National Police, and local government units (LGUs).

“The concerned authorities should enforce these to protect the interest and welfare of our people, especially the poor. Hoarding denies the poor access to essential products like medicines and increases the prices of these commodities,” Castelo said in a statement.

The role of LGUs, she said, is particularly critical, since they could suspend or revoke the business permits of establishments that hoard or manipulate the prices of products or engage in activities in restraint of trade.

She also urged the government and manufacturers to ensure enough supply of Covid-19 medicines.

“The best antidote to hoarding and price manipulation is sufficient supply,” she stressed.

The DTI has assured the public that there would be ample stocks of paracetamol and others drugs for Covid-19 symptoms.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said manufacturers of paracetamol and flu medicines have recommended not to put a cap on the purchase of these drugs amid tight supplies, particularly in Metro Manila and some provinces.

“The manufacturer suggested yesterday that there is no need to put a cap because they can supply and the drugstores would be able to put their quantity limits when they detect (an) unnecessary bulk purchase,” Lopez said.

He said they have called on pharmaceutical firms and drugstores to speed up the replenishment of paracetamol and other flu medicines, noting that the tight supply situation was mainly due to the timing of deliveries.

Pharmaceutical firm Unilab assured DTI that it would expedite deliveries this week amid the increase in demand for these medicines, Lopez added.

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) vice president Jannette Jakosalem also confirmed there is no shortage in supplies of paracetamol and flu medicines.

She said pharmaceutical firms would be able to replenish the supplies in Metro Manila in two to three days.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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