MANILA—House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano sounded the alarm on the looming possibility of untapped contraceptive supplies running out by 2020, which could endanger the health and lives of at least 13 million Filipino women.
Cayetano, principal author of the Reproductive Health Law, joined in the call of women and health advocates for the lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the certification of contraceptive products.
“Women have started to feel the shortage. And the eventual total unavailability of contraceptives will affect millions and millions of women who rely on these, number one, not to get pregnant, and also for other health issues that could only be addressed by these products,” said Cayetano.
To recall, the Supreme Court issued a TRO in June 2015 to the Department of Health from “procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing, or administering, advertising, and promoting the hormonal contraceptive “Implanon” and “Implanon NXT””.
The TRO has barred the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) from renewing the certificate of registration of various contraceptives, which is a requirement before these products can be distributed and sold in the market.
In August 2016, after a motion for reconsideration had been filed by the government, the SC denied the government’s motion and expanded the TRO to cover other contraceptive products available in the Philippine market.
According to the Commission on Population (PopCom), 98 percent of contraceptive products will no longer be available by 2019 and the remaining 2 percent by 2020.
Cayetano said SC’s requirement for the FDA to hear the opposition of ‘Pro-Life’ groups before certifying any contraceptive product “has no basis in law”.
The additional requirement only makes the registration process more tedious, the lady lawmaker noted.
“This is a serious women’s issue that the public needs to understand. The Supreme Court wants a public hearing to be conducted for each contraceptive brand. But there is nothing in the law that says that, and so the High Court, with all due respect, cannot impose that,” she said.
“That does not happen with other medications, with other health products, in the Philippines and all over the world. So why are contraceptives being singled out? Because the petitioners made it appear that this is a required process (in the FDA) when it is not,” she added.