MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Friday said small retail stores (sari-sari stores) could secure authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to sell over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
“Pwede namang mag-apply sila sa FDA, ‘yung mga tindahan at kung sila ay mabigyan ng authorization, pwede silang magbenta (Sari-sari stores can actually apply for FDA authorization. If they are issued authorizations, they can sell,’’ Año said in an interview with GMA’s morning show Unang Hirit.
This came as netizens urged the government to allow sari-sari stores to sell OTC medicines, especially in areas that lack drug stores and pharmacies.
Under Section 30 of Republic Act 10918 or the Philippine Pharmacy Act, only FDA-licensed retail drug outlets or pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs and medicines to the public.
The DILG chief, however, clarified that small variety stores can only sell OTC medicines and not prescription drugs.
“Mahirap kasing kontrolin, generally pag sinabi natin ‘pwede na kayo magbenta ng OTC medicines’, kawawa naman ‘yung publiko kung fake yang gamot na yan or hindi naaayon sa prescription kaya dapat mag-ingat tayo dito (It would be difficult to control because generally, if we say ‘you can sell OTC medicines’, the public’s health is at risk because of fake drugs or using drugs without the necessary prescription so we must be careful about this),” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it is considering conducting “buy-bust operations” against “sari-sari” stores that are selling medicines without any authorization from the government.
“We can conduct buy-bust operations as it is considered illegal drugs, unregulated drugs. And we have to see if they have permits or authority or accreditation,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said in a radio interview.
Fajardo, however, said the police should have personal knowledge about this illegal activity proliferating in a certain area.
“We cannot just simply say ‘we bought it there’, the police must be the ones who bought it and saw the medicines which will be our basis,” she added.
Earlier, Año called on the local government units (LGUs) to enact ordinances banning the sale of medicines in sari-sari stores as fake medicines have proliferated in small retail stores that put the public’s health at great risk.
The DILG has started a crackdown against sari-sari stores selling medicines and fake drugs, with Año ordering the PNP to immediately arrest the violators.
In the recent public briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte, the FDA noted having received 185 reports on sari-sari stores that were illegally selling medicines of which 78 were confirmed to be guilty.
Of this number, the FDA said that nine stores were retailing fake medicines including medicines for the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19).
With the circumstances, the FDA requested the DILG to ask all LGUs to pass ordinances that would ban sari-sari stores from selling medicines. (PNA)