Rules on use of e-cigarette, vapes out next week – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   May 30, 2019   •   3420

FILE PHOTO: An exhibitor staff member uses an electronic cigarette at Beijing International Vapor Distribution Alliance Expo (VAPE CHINA EXPO) in Beijing, July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to release an order detailing the regulations on the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vapes next week, a health official said on Wednesday.

Health Assistant Secretary Atty. Charade Mercado-Grande said in a press briefing that the DOH’s Executive Department is poised to sign the order which may be released in the first week of June.

The move follows the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to regulate or ban the use of e-cigarettes and related products once it is proven that these also contain cancer-causing chemicals that are found in traditional cigarettes.

“There’s no total ban, but more of regulation. That’s what we will do for now,” Mercado-Grande said.

The DOH explained that they are still in the process of examining all the chemicals used in e-cigarettes and vapes before implementing a total market ban.  

“I’ll check on the classification if it is considered as pharmaceutical or what is the specific qualifications of the chemicals but definitely anything that we put in our body especially when there are studies that prove they are harmful to health, the DOH must do protective measures,” Mercado-Grande said.

The Health department further stated they are now working with the Department of Finance (DOF) for the proposed imposition of tax on e-cigarettes and vapes.

But DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua admitted that gathering data for the proposal is a bit of a challenge as the country has no existing policy about its use.

“This is a less regulated market and unlike cigarettes outside the factory, there is the BIR that monitors. Because excise works like this: When a product goes out of the factory, pay tax. These are largely imported, so we are working to understand the market better,” he said.

Chua said they are working to propose to the Senate to include e-cigarettes and related devices among the products on which to impose excise tax.

“Eventually, we will see a shifting from the traditional cigarette to the e-cigarette and the moment. We determine the health risk. We will, of course, propose the appropriate tax so I think the funding will continue,” he said.

Based on their proposal, the funds expected to be collected from the additional tax will be used to finance the implementation of the government’s Universal Health Care program. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

FDA clarifies: Chinese medicine Lian Hua Qin Weng not registered as COVID-19 drug in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 13, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has clarified that the traditional Chinese medicine, Lian Hua Qin Weng, is not registered in the Philippines as a product for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Although Lian Hua Qin Weng is used as a COVID-19 treatment in China and other countries, it is not registered for the same purpose in the Philippines, according to FDA Director General Eric Domingo.

“Dito sa Pilipinas approved natin siya as traditional-use herbal product (Here in the Philippines, it is approved as traditional-use herbal product) that helps remove toxins, invasion of the lungs including symptoms such as fever, cold, muscle soreness, stuffy and runny nose. Kasi iyong mga traditional medicines ang tini-treat niyan symptoms, alleviate symptoms. Hindi talaga siya directed to one particular illness, (Because these traditional medicines treat or alleviate symptoms. It is not really directed to one particular illness),” he said.

On Wednesday (August 12), the Chinese Embassy released a statement describing Lian Hua Qin Weng as a treatment for moderate and mild cases of COVID-19 in China.

However, in the Philippines, Domingo said the medicine still needs to undergo clinical trials and cannot be labeled as a treatment for COVID-19.

Dito sa atin ang traditional medicine hindi natin siya ina-approve for particular illnesses […] hindi siya pwedeng i-label sa atin as treatment for COVID-19. Hindi siya pwedeng ibenta as that dito sa Pilipinas, (Here, traditional medicine is not approved for particular illnesses […] we cannot label it as treatment for COVID-19. It cannot be sold here in the Philippines as such),” he added.

The FDA official also explained that the medicine is a prescription drug and will not be sold over-the-counter. The FDA also warned the public not to buy Lian Hua Qin Weng online.

“Kailangan magpatingin sa doctor. Mag-reseta at pwede lang siyang ibenta sa mga licensed pharmacies or licensed retail outlets, (One needs to consult a doctor. A prescription is needed and the medicine can only be sold at licensed pharmacies or licensed retail outlets)” Domingo said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Healthcare workers involved in selling of blood plasma will face sanctions — DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 11, 2020

Health workers will face sanctions if it is proven that they are involved in the sale of convalescent plasma of COVID-19 survivors, the Department of Health (DOH) warned.

Investigation of the Health Department showed several hospital staff in Cebu City are involved in the illegal trade of blood plasma. The DOH said there are only four facilities authorized to collect plasma from COVID-19 survivors: The Philippine Blood Center, Philippine Red Cross in Port Area, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City, and UP-PGH in Manila.

Based on the DOH Administrative Order No. 36 Section 46, a medical professional proven to be involved in illegal activities could have his or her license revoked.

“Recommendation to revoke the certificate of registration or to suspend said certificate to practice the profession and to invalidate the professional license of any health professional involved in misrepresentation of facts or falsification of documents or records especially medical, laboratory or inspection results and certificates, or in violation of R.A. No. 7719 and the herein Rules, by the Professional Regulation Commission upon recommendation of the Secretary,” according to the administrative order.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reminds the public that buying plasma from unauthorized individuals is dangerous due to lack of proper screening by health professionals.

“Maraming sakit pa na nata-transmit if we sell our blood lalo na iyon mga hindi na screen (There are a lot of diseases that can be transmitted if we sell our blood, especially when it is not screened),” she said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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DOH explains COVID-19 recoveries are symptoms-based, not test-based

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 31, 2020

All the mild and asymptomatic cases that had undergone quarantine for 14 days have been considered recovered after not exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH said this policy is the global standard where symptoms-based is used and not test-based in declaring a recovered COVID-19 patient.

Kapag asymptomatic po siya after 14 days without symptoms, they can already be tagged as recovered pwede na po siyang mag- trabaho (If he is asymptomatic after 14 days without symptoms, he can already be tagged as recovered and resume work), according to DOH Usec. Rosario Vergeire.

Still, Vergeire said that it is important that a recovered individual should have an assessment from a physician confirming his recovery.

The number of daily recoveries went up to over 38,000 on Thursday (July 30), with a total of 65,054 recovered cases. The daily number of cases, meanwhile, went over 3,000.

The DOH said the ‘mass recoveries’ and surge of cases is due to the ‘reconciliation efforts’ of the department to consolidate its data with the data of local government units (LGUs) through Oplan Recovery.

Oplan Recovery is the DOH’s initiative to monitor the status of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. –AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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