Sunday, May 30, 2010
Why women have bigger balls than men
Now that I have your attention on this blog spot with my title for this post, I'd like to turn your attention to Dr. Esperanza Icasas-Cabral, our current Secretary of Health.
Dr. Cabral (Espie, to her friends) has done more in her 3-4 months in office than her predecessor Dr. Francisco Duque III. Honestly, all Duque did was to jockey his way into politics with Ate Glue. Seriously, Duque did not earn his post as Secretary of Health because he was capable of heading the agency. He so happened to be the neighbor of GMA in Valle Verde. His incompetence as head of the health agency in the country began actually as PhilHealth head during the term of Ate Glue. An agency which the dwarf in the palace capitalized on for her campaign and elections for the 2004 presidency. I will not discuss this any further, as this is a thing of the past. For the record, Duque had no balls to make something out of himself. He did not earn his current post. Like a dog, they were rewards for "fetching the ball".
But let me commend Espie for sticking to what is right.
When she stood up to the Catholic crusaders on the reproductive bill and giving away condoms by the government to address population problems and curb HIV transmission in the country, I thought that that was the way a good health secretary should decide. It is not the disease or a replicating population that will drive this country into self-destruction. It is religion.
When she stood up to the tobacco industry that there should be pictures of the ill effects of smoking on every pack of cigarette so that the public is made more graphically aware of the morbid and fatal outcome of cigarette smoking, I was impressed that she would take the bull by its horns. After all, what better deterrent to a vice than to make the ordinary Juan de la Cruz understand what the sign "cigarette smoking is detrimental to your health" means. Show a picture of a finger all gangrened, and the next smoker will think twice before he lights the cigarette.
Let's face it. While we laud that the Philippines is an English speaking country, the forces of Jejemon language, Taglish and Bading-talk make it really difficult to comprehend that we are serious about English as a primary communication skill. The mere fact that many can't even read and write with correct grammar and syntax (and they're in government office or the academe already), makes you really wonder if half the Filipinos even understand the warnings that we put in every commercial commodity!
You think that Juan de la Cruz understands what the words "drink in moderation" mean? I am willing to bet that 8 out of 10 think that as long as you don't get too drunk (which may mean anywhere from not being able to walk a straight line to not getting an erection and passing out after a drinking spree and peeing on yourself), that's moderate drinking.
And the advertising gimmicks do not help lessen the vice of Filipino people. 90% of the advertisements are made to promote the evil rather than give the true picture of what essentially the product is all about. But that is how irresponsible advertising is in this country. Let's just make a quick buck within the confines of the idiotic laws of this land.
The most recent stand of Espie regarding the voluminous herbal products that have plagued the local market is laudable. If you ask Filipinos if they know what "no approved therapeutic claim" means, I am willing to bet my balls that 8 out of 10 have NO IDEA at all. Espie's idea (which was what I have been lecturing all along in my talks) is simple and not even rocket science. Translate all the warning signs to Tagalog. Which means, that all herbal supplements or food supplements that carry the tag "NO APPROVED THERAPEUTIC CLAIMS" under Administrative Order 2010-0008 must be translated to "Mahalagang paalala: (name of product) ay hindi gamot at hindi dapat gamiting panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit".
The day right after this AO was released, an herbal company went ahead to sue Espie. They said that it did not go through public consultation and Dr. Cabral had violated the law on graft.
Graft??!?!!? The lawyer of that herbal company probably is a nincompoop that probably has dementia and has been taking too many herbal agents that his/her brains have simply disintegrated. Dr. Cabral is right - you don't need to go through public consultation for a translation! You mean to tell me that if you have a sign that says NO PEDESTRIAN CROSSING, you will need to go through public consultation just to say BAWAL TUMAWID? Come on. Gimme a break. Somebody please, shoot the lawyer! Aba eh talaga naman bobo yang mga yan at balak talagang man-denggoy. I have always said, and will state for the record - that there is no greater fool than the fool that is fooled by a fool.
And which is altogether true about Dr. Cabral's stand.
Let me call a spade a spade. The herbal agents come in as a food supplement. They get their registration from the Food and Drug Authority as a food supplement. They are not drugs. If they want to be classified under the category of drugs, they must show clinical trials and other physicochemical proof that they can be marketed as drugs. Only drugs can claim therapeutic effects. This is for the safety of the consuming public. If the patient wishes to take an herbal agent to treat himself of a disease (for example, ampalaya extract for diabetes), then go ahead. But he must understand that the herbal agent IS NOT intended to cure him of the disease. It is not licensed for that.
But the mere fact that the advertisements of the herbal agents do not say that they are simply food supplements and GO BEYOND by claiming they are for use in patients with the disease IS A THERAPEUTIC CLAIM altogether.
Which is a pure violation of the law.
Which I cannot understand how the advertising companies and media board allow this kind of advertisement to proliferate and get aired on prime time.
What is more strange is how the media and networks, have not given ample news and significance to this imbroglio between Sec. Cabral and the herbal companies. It is simply because networks like ABS-CBN, GMA 7, etc. thrive on the advertisements of these herbal companies. Without the herbal companies, the revenues in advertisements would slump by 20%.
And this would also mean that shows like Wowowee and endorsements by TV personalities and media personnel would go down by 50% in revenues alone.
To add fuel to fire, it is stated in the administrative order that when translated to Tagalog, the translated words must be recited slowly and understandably, and not in the 1 second spiel that it is currently being displayed in advertisements and flashed on and off on the screen that it disappears even before you can blink. Which is also sensibly correct.
But safety is not an issue at all with these herbal agents. They flaunt that because the substance is herbal in nature it is absolutely safe. Safety issues on drugs and supplements in wanting in this country. Of the billions of drugs and supplements in the market, the local FDA receives less than 1,000 reports from the pharmaceutical and herbal industry each year. Which does not mean that the drugs and supplements are safe. It just goes to show you that adverse event reporting is not considered a practice unless it is a serious one.
I agree with Dr. Cabral. These measures are not intended to kill the herbal industry. It is meant to educate the public and not kill the Filipino people, who have seemingly resorted to buying herbal supplements from the sheer belief that they are actually drugs intended to cure a disease. This is the moral and ethical obligation of the Department of Health. This was the blind eye taken by the previous secretary of health.
And there is more work to be done, but so little time as the next administration comes into the picture to appoint a new secretary of health.
For example, alcohol advertisements should be banned in the same way as tobacco advertisements are. While tobacco consumption poses health risks, so does alcohol. Beer is readily available over the counter and in supermarkets in this country. It can easily be bought by children even under 15 years old. And "drinking moderately" and being "cool" about drinking alcohol leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It's like saying, "you can't smoke because it's bad for your health, but it's okay if you drink alcohol as long as it's in moderation".
Then there are the so many generic products in the market. We don't actually need gazillion generic products. A few generic equivalents that are of good quality is all the country needs. Healthy business competition, my ass. Many of the generic equivalents are actually traders of Indian companies. Someone has to make a stand on ensuring quality generic products in the country. Drugs save lives. But poor quality standard drugs kill. And substandard drugs have no place anywhere in the world. They stand to benefit only the shrewd businessman. Never mind the patient.
Even the maximum drug retail price is altogether wrong.
This MDRP signed by the dwarf in the palace should be questioned before the courts. It is stipulated in the implementing rules and regulations of the Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act that the MDRP can only be declared during an emergency. For example, if there is an outbreak of AH1N1 and the public will need Tamiflu, then the president can declare a maximum retail price for this drug. At the moment, all the drugs in the MDRP are not emergency situations. As to how and who decided on the list is blatantly stupid.
If the claim of the government is that the generic equivalents in the market are as equally good as the branded ones, where is the emergency here with the abundance of several generic equivalents in the country?
I can go on and on and on, but I will stop here.
I just wanted to say that Espie has done more in 3 months than what her predecessor has done licking the boots of the dwarf. If I were the new president, I would keep Espie as my secretary of health. A woman with morals and ethics and no qualms about keeping the record straight when it comes to policies on health care in the country.
She stands taller than men who cringe at the flick of the finger of the dwarf. And by golly, she has balls!
Ma'am you have my vote and whether you stay on as secretary of health or not, let me salute you!