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Chill, FDA tells backers, opponents of RH law

/ 07:27 AM November 05, 2017

The government agency screening medicines and food products for safety prior to their sale in Philippine markets appealed for sobriety as it reviews 51 contraceptives in relation to a Supreme Court order that banned some of these for causing abortions.

In a statement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said there was no need to be “hysterical” about the FDA’s review of the contraceptives.

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It quoted Nela Charade Puno, FDA director general, as saying baseless accusations against the agency may instead derail and delay the enforcement of the country’s reproductive health (RH) law.

Puno appealed to groups opposing and supporting the law to “exercise sobriety and keep the productive dialogue going.”

“The process is technical and scientific in nature and not a political one,” Puno said in the FDA statement.

“As scientists, we work with empirical evidence and we make sure that our conclusions are based on facts and not on hysteria,” she said.

Escalating attack

The statement was issued in the wake of what the FDA said was “an escalating attack on its integrity and processes” as it comes close to concluding its review of the contraceptives.

The agency cited the antiabortion group’s Alliance for the Family Philippines Inc.’s (Afpi) criticism of the review.

The high court earlier said it would lift a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of the RH law only after the FDA review of contraceptives suspected to be abortifacients.

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The TRO, issued in 2015, was assailed by reproductive health advocates as a stumbling block in the full implementation of Republic Act No. 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

President Duterte had cited the TRO as an example of unnecessary court interference.

Heeding the Supreme Court order, the FDA had reviewed and issued new safety certifications for 35 of the 51 contraceptives, declaring them to be nonabortifacients.

The TRO also ordered the FDA to conduct public hearings and a technical review of the contraceptives to determine if these did not induce abortion.

The TRO was issued at the behest of Afpi.

Puno sought to give assurances that the FDA’s review was open and transparent.

Evidence

She said the agency informed interested parties of the review and gave enough time for the submission of evidence to support claims that the contraceptives were abortifacients.

The FDA chief said the assault on the agency and its processes “from various sides is unfair, not just to the agency but to the public it serves.”

“The charges being aired by critics are baseless and appear to merely aim at watering down the credibility of the decision the FDA may come up with at the end of the review process,” she said.

Puno said the review was already in its final stage and the agency would soon release the results.

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TAGS: contraceptives, FDA, Food and Drug Administration, Nela Charade Puno, reproductive health law, Supreme Court
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