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Customs to release anti-HIV drugs

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs for HIV patients can now be released from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) after the Department of Health (DOH) paid P4 million in duties and other taxes.

The 5,781 kilograms or 490 boxes of Efavirenz arrived from Singapore last Aug. 14.

BOC spokesman Charo Logarta-Lagamon said the DOH can pick up the drugs anytime.

“The Customs  broker is waiting for the temperature to cool down before they pull it out,” she said.

Lagamon said the Customs broker decided to wait until the sun has gone down before moving the shipment, considering the sensitivity of the cargo to temperature.

“It is temporarily housed at a cold storage area at a warehouse near NAIA Terminal 1,” she said.

Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said the DOH was just caught in some “technicality and bureaucratic procedures,” and that taxes have already been settled.

“Actually there was no delay (in payment),” he said.

“I think there were some changes in the policy (of BOC). In the past, they can release and then we will pay. This time, maybe the policy was changed that you have to pay before they release.”

Herbosa said no HIV patient was deprived of treatment while the ARV was being held at the BOC because a rationing system was implemented to maximize supplies.

“For instance, instead of getting three bottles, they were getting only one bottle,” he said.

“But it does not mean that they were not able to take their ARV on time. They just had to go back again. So they panicked, thinking that supplies will run out. But no one was deprived of their ARV.”  

The DOH is giving the ARV for free to HIV patients.

As of July, 7,172 patients received the drugs through 19 treatment hubs nationwide.

Last Sept. 3, the BOC released the first batch of anti-HIV drugs weighing 1,232 kilograms after the DOH paid the duties and taxes amounting to P540,361 and after submitting all the necessary requirements. – Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan

AS OF JULY

BUREAU OF CUSTOMS

CHARO LOGARTA-LAGAMON

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

EFAVIRENZ

EVELYN MACAIRAN

HERBOSA

LAST SEPT

SHEILA CRISOSTOMO

UNDERSECRETARY TED HERBOSA

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