Monday, July 13, 2009

Pfizer tried to bribe govt of P 100 M, says Enrile

Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile today disclosed that Pfizer Philippines, a pharmaceutical company, reportedly gave 5 million discount cards worth P 100 million just to skirt the implementation of the Cheap Medicines bill. This surfaced during the Senate probe to investigate a possible collusion between government and pharma companies.

Pfizer and Roche Philippines also confirmed the meeting they had with Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Reiner Gloor, executive director of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines and chair of its ethics committee, confirmed that Pfizer thru its Country Manager/representative Alberto Mateo allegedly made the Offer to Department of Health secretary Francisco Duque. The offer was made before the publication of the list of the maximum retail price (MRP) for essential medicines last month. The offer, however, was supposedly rejected by Duque.

Gloor once headed Zuellig Pharma in the Philippines and now serve as vice chairman of the Zuellig Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit corporation. While Alberto Mateo serves as General Manager of the pharmaceutical division, a promotion after serving for some years as Finance and Business Development director. He's also Pfizer Foundation chairman.

Enrile described the offer as tantamount to a "bribe".

During the questioning, Gloor also confirmed that it was Pfizer Philippines which initiated the meeting with Mrs. Arroyo. Present during that closed door meeting were Duque, Trade secretary Peter Favila, representatives of Pfizer and Roche Philippines.

The meeting, which was held during the inauguration of the Dr. Eva Macaraeg Macapagal Geriatric Hospital last July 8, was requested by Pfizer. The President was accompanied by Secretary Duque, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Trade Assistant Secretary Ma. Lourdes Baua, Congressman Benny Abante, Congressman Junie Cua and DOH-National Drug Policy Program Manager Dr. Robert Louie So.

The multinational industry, on the other hand, was represented by top management namely Mr. Albert Mateo of Pfizer, Mr. Augusto Villanueva of Roche, Mr. Reiner Gloor of PHAP/Zuellig, Mr. Andrew Santos of Wyeth and Mr. Caloy Realuyo of Sanofi.

Arroyo reportedly remarked that she'll sign the Cheap Medicines bill into a law if " they (pharma companies) can't come up with something commendable and good." Gloor and Augusto Villanueva, Roche Philippines representative, however, did not say what Arroyo meant by "commendable and good."