DAVAO CITY – Manufacturers of alternative and traditional medicine here have formed an organization to protect and promote the proper usage of these medicines and to protect them from medical companies who try to “kill them”.

Dr. Samuel Batiancilla, chairman of the Philippine Traditional and Alternative Medicine Association (PTAMA), said on Monday that “recently, the pharmaceutical companies try to kill alternative medicines here in the Philippines because many doctors have complained that their patients don’t buy generic drugs, because they tend to buy (traditional) medicines instead.”

“We found out that giant pharmaceutical companies have tied up with the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), which is a big association of manufacturers of generic drugs. What we are trying to do is to defend alternative medicines,” Batiancilla added.

Batiancilla said that there is also a law which protects alternative medicines.

“Even former senator Juan Flavier, a believer of alternative medicine, created a law which protects the practice of alternative medicine in the Philippines,” he said.

Republic Act No. 8423, or the “Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 1997” created by former senator Juan Flavier in December 1997, aims to accelerate the development of traditional and alternative health care that provides traditional and alternative health care services.

Batiancilla said that the problem with pharmaceutical companies lies on the unfair development of their cause.

“They tend to say that herbal medicines can’t cure illnesses, and that food supplements must have a disclamier that says ‘no approved therapeutic claims’. Because of this, people are discouraged people to take such medicines,” he said.

Batiancilla said that even with this disclaimer, people still buy herbal medicines instead of generic drugs.

The group also reacted to the Filipino translation of the disclaimer made by the Department of

“The Tagalized (Filipino) version says ‘ang produktong ito ay hindi gamot at hindi maaaring gawing panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit’, which seemed to be a very over-acting statement rather than a helpful one,” he said.

In 2010, DOH has imposed the translated version of the disclaimer to all food supplements and herbal medicines in the Philippines through Administrative Order (AO) 2010-0008 to provide directives specific to the change in the use of the message or phrase “NO APPROVED THERAPEUTIC CLAIM” in all advertisement, promotion and/or sponsorship activities or materials concerning Food/Dietary Supplements with the end view of promoting and protecting the consumers’ health and welfare and fostering their right to proper information and education to facilitate sound choice.

Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, said the DOH is duty bound to protect the general public from any false information.

The Chamber of Herbal Industry of the Philippines, Inc. (CHIPI), a big manufacturing company of herbal medicine protested the implementation of the AO for the “unfair message it brings to the people.”

The group brought the case to court citing that they were not consulted.

Batiancilla said that they will also be pushing for fairness and truth as to the food supplement manufacturers who try to overclaim their products.

“I am against overclaiming that their products can cure because you don’t claim them to cure all illnesses since there are only some herbal meds which can cure certain diseases. On the contrary, you don’t also say that your medicines can’t cure any illnesses at all,” he said.

“We need to achieve a status wherein we could also police our own brands same with the PMA,” he added.

As of 2015, there are 2,588 registered food supplements in the Philippines which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Batiancilla said they will be holding a summit on August about traditional and alternative medicine to strengthen their advocacy on promoting and protecting traditional and alternative medicines in the Philippines. (davaotoday.com)

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