High blood over wrong prices

SPY BIZ - S.A. Maguire () - December 7, 2006 - 12:00am
The price controversy over "high blood" medication continues to boil with local pharmaceutical firm Therapharma alleging that multinational drug firm Pfizer raised its prices by 20 percent prior to offering a 50-percent discount through its "Sulit Card." Sources privy to Pfizer, however, disputed the allegations, pointing out that Pfizer only raised the price of its antihypertensive drug Norvasc by as much as eight percent, and that the Pfizer Sulit Card had been in existence as far back as 2004. Reports also quoted Pfizer’s corporate affairs head Cathy Ileto saying that the Sulit Card is merely one component of the company’s Patient Care Program whose intention is to help doctors keep an eye on patients’ progress and monitor their compliance to prescribed medication. Sources disclosed that the drug company shoulders the cost of the hefty discount it gives. All this fuss about patents and pricing, however, is taking away focus on the most important issue: the patient, said Philip Stevens, health program director of UK-based think-tank International Policy Network. Stevens said the price of medicines is largely irrelevant in the face of other major factors affecting a nation’s health such as a sound healthcare system, better hospitals, competent doctors and nurses as well as an enhanced insurance coverage scheme from government that would redound to the poor. Stevens gave the example of India, which, despite its vaunted strong generics law, only has a minuscule number of its population having access to medicines. The real issue, the expert reiterates, is not the price of drugs but the dismal state of that country’s healthcare infrastructure, lack of resources, bad transport and a government system riddled by corruption and inefficiency. "You could give away drugs for free and they still won’t get to the most needy," he stressed.
Salvaging the ‘Silver Fortune’
The bigamy charge filed before a Makati Regional Trial court last Nov. 28 by Ricky Silverio Jr. against Bulacan Congresswoman Lorna Cillan, now Silverio, is allegedly an attempt by Ricky Jr. to prevent the continuing dissipation of the Silverio wealth. The Bulacan congresswoman was married to an Air Force colonel but is supposedly now the second wife of Ricky’s father Ricardo Sr., currently mayor of San Rafael, Bulacan. The Silverio fortune reportedly had a net worth of as high as $500 million during the heyday of Mayor Carding when he was dubbed the Toyota King. The Mayor is now said to be down to his last $100 million. In any case, this amount is not something to sneeze at, as Ricky Jr. now realizes. He has obviously lost a lot of the silver during his halcyon days as a high flying, polo-playing playboy. Ricky Jr. used to fly his own helicopter to his farm in Calatagan with different women every weekend. The issue about the remaining Silverio wealth is getting stickier because most properties have allegedly been transferred to the Congresswoman, and Ricky is trying to salvage the last few pieces of silver that he feels is part of his rightful inheritance.
Marco Polo Cebu to host ASEAN delegates
It looks like Marco Polo Plaza Cebu is pulling out all stops and is mobilizing its worldwide network to welcome the 12th ASEAN Summit delegates from China, Australia and New Zealand. Four top chefs from Marco Polo Parkside in Beijing are flying in to prepare authentic Chinese cuisine for the Chinese delegation led by Premier Wen Jiabao, Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. Personnel will also be sent from Xiamen to act as interpreters. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark and Australian Prime Minister John Howard will also join the summit which will be held at the Cebu International Convention Center from Dec. 10 to 14.
Turn off to tourists
Spybiz informants reported that a large tourist shopping facility offering money exchange services located at "the strip" in this popular tourist destination is charging up to six percent surcharge on all credit card transactions. This is in contrast to some hotels that accept credit card payments but do not impose additional fees or surcharges. This could be a direct violation of Administrative Order No. 10 by the Department of Trade and Industry, which prohibits additional charges on products or services paid via credit card. AO 10 took effect last Nov. 5, and any retailer found violating its provisions faces up to six months in prison plus fines.
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