Sunday, March 18, 2012

Del Rosario vs. Bengzon (December 21, 1989)

Facts: Philippine Medical Association is the national organization of medical doctors in the Philippines. They assail the constitutionality of some of the provisions of Generics Act of 1988 (Rep. Act 6675) and the implementation of Administrative Order No. 62. 

The law specifically provides that “All government health agencies shall use generic terminology or generic names in all transactions related to purchasing, prescribing, dispensing, and administering of drugs and medicines. It also includes medical, dental and veterinary, private practitioners shall write prescriptions using the generic name. 

The petitioner’s main argument is the alleged unequal treatment of government practitioners and those on the private practice. It is because the former are required to use only generic terminology in the prescription while the latter may write the brand name of the drug below the generic name. It is allegedly a specie of invalid class legislation. 

In addition, the petitioners gave a distorted interpretation on RA 6675 and Admin Order No. 62 saying that the salesgirl and or druggist have the discretion to substitute the doctor’s prescription. The court says that the salesgirl at the drugstore counter merely informs the customer, but does not determine all the other drug products or brands that have the same generic name and their prices. 

Issue: Whether or not the Generics Act is constitutional as to the exercise of police power by the government. 

Held: Petition Dismissed. 

The court has been unable to find any constitutional infirmity in the Generics Act. It implements the constitutional mandate for the State “to protect and promote the right to health of the people” and “to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost”. 

The alleged unequal treatment of government physicians, dentists and veterinarians on one hand and those in the private practice in the other, is a misinterpretation of the law. 

The salesgirl at the drugstore counter merely informs the customer of all available products, but does not determine all the other drug products or brands that have the same generic name and their corresponding process. 

The penal sanction in violation of the law is indispensable because they are the teeth of the law. Without them, the law would be toothless. 

The Generics Act and the implementing administrative orders of the Secretary of Health are constitutional. 

The purpose of the Generics Act is to “promote and require the use of generic drug products that are therapeutically equivalent to their brand name counterparts”. The effect of the drug does not depend on its brand but on the active ingredients which it contains.

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