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Public reminded about cheaper, quality drugs

As the country reels from the inflated prices of food and services and other essential needs, local drug companies Innogen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Getz Pharma (Phils.), Inc. and Zydus Healthcare Philippines, Inc. are reminding the public they have long made available the medications that provide effective yet very affordable relief to osteoarthritis, one of their major health problems.

These medications are coxigen of Innogen Pharma, starcox of Getz Pharma and etoxi of Zydus Healthcare. 

These three are innovative, generic versions of etoricoxib, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine that counters the debilitating effects of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that afflicts millions of Filipinos, especially those aged 60 and above.

The three companies issued the reminder as they expressed concern over the financial burden imposed by this ailment on the poor, especially on those living in areas severely damaged by Typhoon “Rosita” in end-October, and of Typhoon “Ompong” that also devastated various parts of the country just six weeks earlier.

Osteoarthritis causes severe pain and prolonged swelling of joints in the hips, knees, hands, wrists, shoulders, neck and back. 

The condition can result in disability and is aggravated by excessive body weight, advanced age, injury to the joint, and the type of jobs that call for kneeling or lifting of heavy loads. In certain cases, the disease is caused by genetic or hereditary factors. 

The ailment is said to affect more people than heart disease and hypertension combined.

Innogen sells the drug in doses of 60mg, 90mg, and 120mg. 

Priced at P35.85, P39.60 and P49.20 per tablet, respectively, the costs are at least 40­­ percent lower than the branded version manufactured by a foreign company. 

Prices of coxigen, etoxi and starcox differ only very slightly and are actually negligible, but all three are within affordable range of even the poor victims of osteoarthritis.

On the other hand, the foreign brand manufacturer reportedly sells its products at P59.75 for its 60mg dose tablet, P66 for the 90mg dose, and P82 for the 120mg dose.

The three pharma firms said their version of etoricoxib answers the call for the availability of pharmaceuticals at prices that make them easily accessible to the public but whose quality and efficacy are comparable to, if not better than, imported foreign brands.

They said their products conform to quality standards prescribed by health authorities and government regulatory bodies and are compliant with the provisions and requirements of the Cheaper Medicines Act (Rep. Act 9502).

At the moment, the three drugs are available mostly in independent drug outlets due to patent rights claims of the foreign drug company that manufactures the branded, main competing product. Reportedly, this foreign drug firm has been harassing independent drug stores by accusing them of patent infringement and demanding that they cease and desist from carrying and selling the generic drugs.

On the basis of alleged patent invalidity, Innogen has filed a petition for cancellation of the foreign drug firm’s patent with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) where the issue is awaiting resolution.

But even as it wished for positive results on its pending petition with the IPO, Innogen expressed the hope that for the sake of the poor victims of osteoarthritis, the major drug outlets will also carry the three local drugs and make these cheaper medications more readily available to the public.

Topics: Innogen Pharmaceuticals Inc. , Getz Pharma (Phils.) Inc. , Zydus Healthcare Philippines Inc. , Cheaper Medicines Act
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