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SC clarifies: TRO issued on just 2 family planning products

/ 07:32 PM May 26, 2017

The government may now implement programs under the Reproductive Health (RH) Law because the injunction order issued by the Supreme Court does not cover all family planning products.

In a resolution released Friday, the Supreme Court pointed out that the order that it issued Aug. 24, 2016 “simply enjoined the respondents from registering, recertifying, procuring and administering only those contraceptive drugs and devices which were subjects of opposition, specifically Implanon and Implanon NXT.”

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“It never meant to enjoin the processing of the entire gamut of family planning supplies that have been declared as unquestionably non-abortifacent,” the high court said.

It added that the injunction “was only subject to the condition that the respondents afford the petitioners a genuine opportunity to their right to due process.”

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Implanon and Implanon NXT are thin rods inserted under the skin, which release hormones that prevent pregnancy for up to three years.

The SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the distribution of those drugs for an indefinite period on a petition filed by Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc., which claimed those contraceptives were abortifacient.

In its recent order, the high court pointed out that it still could not resolve the matter of lifting the injunction because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had yet resolved the matter.

The court gave the FDA 60 days to resolve the question raised by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.

The FDA already conducted a summary hearing but the court said it was not enough.

“Due to the failure of the respondents to observe and comply with the basic requirements of due process, the Court is of the view that the certifications and re-certifications and the distribution of the questioned contraceptive drugs should be struck down as violative of the constitutional right to due process,” the court said.

The court found that the FDA certified and administered 77 contraceptive drugs and devices “without the observance of the basic tenets of due process, without notice and without public hearing, despite the constant opposition of petitioners.”

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The court also directed the FDA to formulate rules for screening, evaluation and approval of all contraceptive drugs and devices to be used under the RH Law.

The Department of Health (DOH), through the Office of the Solicitor General, earlier sought the lifting of the TRO, arguing that it would result in the waste of the supply already purchased by the government which was being kept in warehouses due to expiry date of the drugs.

It also argued that the continued restraint would result in depleted supply of contraceptives in both public and commercial markets.

This, the DOH alleged, may increase induced abortion and maternal deaths in the country. /atm

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TAGS: contraceptives, Department of Health, family planning supplies, Food and Drug Administration, reproductive health law, Supreme Court
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