To bring down the atrocious prices of medicines and drugs, Malacanang wants to exercise its vast powers by issuing Executive Orders. In other words, Malacanang wants to manipulate the market.
The best way to bring down prices of medicines and drugs, or any consumer goods for that matter, is to let an open and free market work. Under the searing sunlight of a free and open market, where sellers and buyers meet in free-wheeling negotiations, prices will tumble down.
In a free and open market, prices rise and fall with supply and demand. The lesser the supply, the higher the prices; the lesser the demand, the lower the prices.
You will find this pricing phenomenon in a public market or palengke. For example, because of the most recent typhoon that hit northern Luzon, there is less supply of vegetables from Baguio. As a result, prices have gone up. When supply normalizes, prices will go down.
To bring down the atrocious prices of medicines and drugs, the government wants instead to use its vast powers. The Senate summoned executives of pharmaceutical firms (Pfizer, in particular) to a public hearing (in full view of national TV cameras, of course) for offering to bribe no less than President Arroyo herself so that an impending Executive Order, imposing what looks like price controls, would not be signed. Pfizer denied the charge in full-page ads in the major newspapers.
As I understand it, Pfizer has agreed to place under price controls some 21 items, the prices of which will be cut down by as much as 60 percent. My guess is, and I must emphasize that this is only a guess, these items are not much in demand and the total sales volume is probably small.
But the most effective way to bring down prices of medicines and drugs is competition, including foreign competition, which is really what an open market is all about. Anybody who has the capability should be allowed to import medicines and drugs, properly taxed, of course. The importations will flood the market, and, as a result, prices should come tumbling down.
Finally, we consumers can do a lot to bring down prices, by cutting demand of local medicines. There is not a single hospital in the U.S. and Canada that does not have a Filipino doctor (250,000 of them, I understand). Ask your doctor friend/relative to send over his free samples. This is what I do. My son Gerry, an internist in LA, sends me all the medicines I need. I have not been to a local drug store in years.
By the way, has our Food and Drug Administration checked whether the medicines and drugs being sold by Pfizer and the others have been banned in the U.S.?