SC junks case filed vs DOH by suspended drugs firm
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has dismissed the case against the Department of Health and its officials which was filed by a drug company suspended for selling products “unfit for human consumption.”
In a decision made public Wednesday, the high court second division through Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, explained that the DoH and its officials cannot be sued because the case against them is considered a case against the State.
The case was filed by Phil Pharmawealth Inc. (PPI) after it was disqualified by the DoH when the Bureau of Food and Drugs found in 2000 that the products they were selling the public were unfit for human consumption.
PPI was given 10 days to submit an explanation about the findings. Instead, PPI wrote a letter to the DoH informing them that they have referred the issue to their counsel. The DoH found the letter untenable and ordered the immediate suspension of its accreditation for two years.
PPI then filed before the Pasig Regional Trial Court a complaint to nullify the DoH suspension order and asked that damages be paid to them by DoH, former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez and Health Undersecretary Margarita Galon.
The DoH and its officials justified before the court that they have the authority to suspend accreditation of drug companies selling substandard products.
“The DoH is primarily responsible for the formulation, planning, implementation and coordination of policies and programs in the field of health; it is vested with the comprehensive power to make essential health services and goods available to the people, including accreditation of drug suppliers and regulation of importation and distribution of basic medicines for the public,” the DoH said.
The lower court dismissed the case against the DoH saying it cannot be sued citing State immunity. PPI filed an appeal but was dismissed by the court which prompted it to go to the Court of Appeals. The appeals court reversed the lower court findings in favor of PPI. The DoH then went to the Supreme Court.
The high court, in its ruling, said the DoH enjoys immunity from suit because it is performing governmental function nor has it consented to be sued.
It added that the non-suability extends to its officials who only followed their mandate.
The high court added that PPI was not denied due process but it “squandered its opportunity to explain.”
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