Friday, March 09, 2007

Industry block on Philippines regulations upheld - for now

There is some good news and bad news from the Philippines. Readers of this blog will know that for the past few months we have been supporting partners there as baby food marketing regulations come under attack from the industry.

The good news is that the case now has such a profile that the latest developments have received widespread coverage in the Philippines. In fact, the headline writers now only have to refer to the 'Milk Code case'.

The bad news is that the Supreme Court has refused to lift its block on the regulations coming into force. Last year it refused the industry's request for a block, but reversed the decision just days after the US Chamber of Commerce wrote to the President of the Philippines threatening investment in the country.

In a decision this week, the Supreme Court has refused a request from the Government that the block be lifted. Here is the report from the Philippines Daily Inquirer, the paper which put your messages of support on the front page last year.

---Daily Inquirer 9 March 2007

Drug firms score in Milk Code case

By Leila B. Salaverria

The temporary and indefinite ban against the implementation of the revised rules of the Milk Code, which would regulate the marketing of infants formula, stays after the Supreme Court has denied an urgent motion to have it lifted.

In a Feb. 27 resolution, the high tribunal denied for lack of merit the motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General on behalf of the Department of Health to lift the temporary restraining order.

The TRO, handed down in August 2006, will be in force until the court issues further orders.

The high court also deferred action on the OSG's motion to set the case for oral arguments, saying it would wait for a reply from the Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines (PHAP).

The PHAP, a group of companies that manufacture or distribute health and nutritional products, went to the high court to stop the implementation of the revised implementing rules and regulations (RIRR) of the Milk Code, saying the DOH did not have the power to change the rules.

The PHAP protested the new rule that band the advertising, promotion or sponsorship, or marketing materials and activities for breast milk substitutes intended for infants and children up to two years old, which it said went beyond the Milk Code's provisions.

It also said the RIR prohibited the free flow of information about the nutritional content of infant formula and prevented the spread of knowledge on proper infant feeding.

I hope you are not getting bored with this on-going battle to defend the regulations, infant health and mother's rights. This stream of small victories and set-backs before a definitive decision is part and parcel of what we do. Even when regulations are introduced they have to be defended, monitored and enforced. When the industry wins and weakens legislation or successfully pushes for voluntary codes of conduct, we have to keep on campaigning.

Latest news is the court will accept oral arguments in a hearing on 12 April. More delay in which the aggressive marketing as exposed on our website will continue. See our action sheet for information on how you can help if you have not already:

No comments: