Senate bill seeks tighter monitoring, info drive on drug overdoses

Senate bill seeks tighter monitoring, info drive on drug overdoses
In this file photo during the 2020 Taal volcano eruption, customers at a pharmacy line up for face masks, which are out of stock.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Lito Lapid has filed a bill to create a Drug Overdose Reporting and Awareness system that would require the Department of Health to publish information on nationwide drug overdose trends twice a year to keep track of overdoses, especially those that lead to deaths.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1498, Lapid argued that the information gathered on drug overdose will lead to better strategies to address the problem of overdoses.

"Whether the drug overdose is accidental or intentional, I believe we can handle its side effects and the danger to life that drug overdose can cause," he said, adding the DOH should also provide important information like how to help people who have overdosed and how to reach emergency services.

"Drug overdose should not be taken lightly because some of our compatriots have passed away because of it, so I am promoting adequate knowledge in relation to it," he also said.

If passed into law, the DOH will be required to issue overdose reports that will include, at a minimum, the following information:

  • Trends in drug overdose deaths;
  • Trends in emergency room utilization for the treatment of drug overdose;
  • Trends in utilization of pre-hospital and emergency services and the cost of emergency services utilization for drug overdose;
  • Suggested improvements in data collection; and
  • A description of education efforts and other interventions that would be effective in reducing the rate of drug overdose.

The health secretary will also issue yearly advisories to officials from the municipal to the provincial level on the prevalence of drug overdose incidents, trends in drug overdose incidents, and best practices and strategies for addressing drug overdose in their jurisdiction.

Fatal overdoses will have to be reported to the examining phsyician along with information on the drugs that may have caused the death. The bill penalizes "knowingly [withholding], [failing] to disclose, or [falsifying] any information relating to the incident of drug overdose, information concerning the drug or drugs responsible for the death, and other information relating to the death caused by drug overdose."

Due to lack of knowledge or access to medical advice, some Filipinos may take more than the recommended dosage of medicine believing this will make it work faster. 

Since July, the PNP’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs has yielded the confiscation of some P9.7-billion worth of illegal drugs and the arrest of 22,646 drug personalities in 18,505 anti-illegal drug operations nationwide.

The PNP has also acknowledged that anti-drug operations have also led to the deaths of 46 drug suspects, though Dahas PH, a running count of reported drug-related killings by the Third World Studies Center at the University of the Philippines says the death toll is closer to 127. 




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