Lacson: ‘Worst yet to come unless DOH, FDA act with urgency’

/ 03:20 PM March 25, 2020

Sen. Panfilo Lacson during February’s Kapihan sa Senado media forum. (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday called for urgency when he lamented the supposed “overly-restrictive’” regulations of the Department of Health (DOH) as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country continue to rise.

“Our lockdown is obviously working, no doubt. We can see it ourselves even from the windows of our own houses. But it is not enough by itself to flatten the COVID-19 curve. South Korea has reported having flattened the curve through mass testing, not lockdown,” Lacson said in a statement.


“What we lack is the ability of the Department of Health to be more flexible,” he added.

The senator was puzzled why the hundreds of thousands of rapid test kits for donation by some local businessmen and procured from South Korea and China are “still being held by Customs.”


He pointed out that these donated test kits have already been in use in the countries they were procured from and certified by their regulatory agencies.

Lacson also questioned the supposed refusal of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “to issue even a provisional accreditation” which he said was needed “so those test kits can be distributed for use particularly by those who have symptoms or those who have had direct contact with infected persons, even on a ‘do-it-yourself’ basis.”

The FDA is an agency under the DOH.

“That, instead of overly restrictive regulations imposed by our DOH, will certainly help obviate a possibly uncontrollable spread of the COVID-19,” Lacson added.

He said that as of last Monday, the same day Congress convened in a special session to deliberate the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act,” only around 1,500 Filipinos have been tested.

“With a population of 107 million, the worst is yet to come unless DOH and FDA act with urgency,” Lacson said.

The senator said this is why he had proposed an amendment to the now signed law, which would ensure that “donation, acceptance, and distribution of health products intended to address the COVID-19 public health emergency are not unnecessarily delayed.”


The said provision would also ensure that “health products for donation duly certified by the regulatory agency or their accredited third party from countries with established regulation shall automatically be cleared: Provided, this shall not apply to health products which do not require a certification or clearance from (FDA).”

Edited by JPV

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