• Non-lifting of TRO on contraceptives a setback to family planning – DOH

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    The FDA license for the least expensive contraceptive pill currently available in the Philippines will expire in June, the Department of Health (DOH) said, which will limit couples’ choices and may lead to more unwanted pregnancies if the Supreme Court’s TRO against implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law is not lifted.

    “If licenses on distribution and sale of many artificial contraceptives expire by 2020 and the Supreme Court maintains its temporary restraining order (TRO) on re-certification of these licenses, condoms can be the last product that can be used for family planning in the country,” the DOH said.

    The least expensive contraceptive pill (Trust Pills sold at P43) currently available in the market will have its license expire by June without renewal of its Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If the license expires, couples would be left only with other brands ranging from P80 to P700.

    The lifting of the TRO is being pushed, the DOH said, because lack of access to other available contraceptives can lead to more “unplanned pregnancies” which may result in maternal and infant death, a backward move since it sets limits to the choices of women.

    DOH Undersecretary Gerard Bayugo, however, said condoms are not affected by the TRO imposed by the SC against the FDA re-certifying contraceptive products.

    “Condoms are not included in those not being given CPRs because they are apparently considered as equipment or devices and not drug products,” said Bayugo.

    In June 2015, the High Court issued a TRO prohibiting the FDA from granting and renewing the CPRs of contraceptive products.

    Since then, the DOH and other health advocates who are pro-RH (Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health) had foreseen the possibility that the country will be running out of available contraceptives by 2020 as all CPRs would have expired by then.

    With the condoms that will be left as the only choice because of the lack of access to other form of contraceptives, the Health official admitted that would not be enough for the government to pursue its reproductive health (RH) agenda.

    “It is not our principle. It is against what we promised. We wanted to give them (public/couples) choices. It is their decision (to choose), not ours,” he said.

    Bayugo said that the DOH would be willing to provide more condoms to the public if necessary.

    “Maybe, if we see that there is an increase in demand, then probably we can respond and buy more if we will be allowed to buy,” he said.

    At present, access to condoms is available through local health centers nationwide.

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