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Sacked FDA chief Puno denies corruption allegations

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno on Friday (May 17) denied accusations she is involved in graft and corruption.

Puno made the statement after she was fired on Thursday by President Rodrigo Duterte over corruption allegations.

READ: Duterte fires FDA Chief Puno over alleged corruption

She stressed that she has not been a subject of nor made aware of being investigated for corruption, but stands ready to face any charges in any forum.

“I take exception to the mention of so-called ‘corruption allegations’ because I am clueless as what these are. I have not been charged in any legal proceedings nor am I aware of any official investigation being undertaken in relation to corruption involving me,” she said in a statement.

“I served as the Director General of the FDA for two years and 10 months with complete honesty, diligence, dedication, and loyalty,” she added.

Duterte ordered Puno’s immediate termination as FDA head on May 15.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this to media on Thursday and even read the letter signed by Executive Salvador Medialdea addressed to Puno.

Panelo, quoting from the letter, said the decision to fire Puno is “in line with the president’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust.”

Panelo, however, did not offer any more details on the allegations against Puno.

The former FDA official confirmed she received the letter on Thursday afternoon, adding that she has accepted the president’s decision without any ill-feelings.

“As a presidential appointee, I serve at the pleasure of the President and therefore I accept his decision without any ill-feelings,” she said.

“I would like to thank the President for the opportunity and honor of having served the Food and Drug Administration as its Director General,” she added.

Puno noted in her statement that during her tenure, the FDA earned three ISO certifications and recognition as the fifth ASEAN nation member country whose regulatory standards were so accredited.

“I leave the FDA with a clear conscience and what I believe to be a clean record,” she said.

Puno was appointed by Duterte as head of the FDA in 2016.

READ: 3 cops killed, 3 others wounded in Camarines Sur ambush

She survived an ambush in October 2018 allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Lupi, Camarines Sur. Her security detail was killed while three others were wounded.

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Brewer tagged in ‘poisoning’ taps third-party labs to test banned Carabao Cosmic Gin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Cosmic Carabao | Courtesy: Juan Brew Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The manufacturer of the recently recalled Cosmic Carabao Gin said it is now investigating reports of alleged methanol poisoning and has tapped third-party laboratories to test the craft gin.

“This is to determine any possible issue in the production of the Cosmic Carabao Gin,” Juan Brew said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the seizure and confiscation as well as the banning of the clear liquid craft gin after gin samples collected and subjected to analysis were found positive for methanol.

The order was issued following reported incidents involving two women who fell ill shortly after allegedly consuming the said gin. The victims were rushed to separate hospitals where one of them reportedly died.

READ: FDA orders seizure, warns public of cosmic carabao gin

Methanol, according to the FDA, is a widely available chemical that has many industrial applications. It is also found in household products and fuel for aircraft.

Although it can occur naturally, the agency said, high concentrations of methanol could mean adulteration of the product.

The FDA also warned the public against the consumption of the said product as “this is currently unregistered and has been confirmed to contain a high level of methanol.”

But Juan Brew insists the company has been registered with the FDA since 2016 and its License to Operate is valid until 2023.

“Since 2016, the Company was granted ten individual Certificates of Product Registration (CPRs) for several varieties of beverages and not a single complaint was brought to our attention since then,” it said.

It also stressed it is aware of the unverified reports on social media about a case of methanol poisoning involving its product and that it has coordinated with the FDA probe.

“We assure the public that JBI is exerting all efforts to coordinate and cooperate with the FDA and other relevant agencies,” the brewer said.

“In the meantime, JBI has recalled Cosmic Carabao and has suspended the distribution thereof. Rest assured, JBI is continuously dedicated in creating quality products with equal regard for consumer health,” it added.

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FDA orders seizure, warns public of Cosmic Carabao Gin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Cosmic Carabao | Courtesy: Juan Brew Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered the seizure of Cosmic Carabao Gin products after its samples were found positive for methanol.

In an advisory, the FDA said the order was issued following the reported incidents involving two women who fell ill shortly after allegedly consuming the said gin. The victims were rushed to separate hospitals where one of them reportedly died.

FDA officer-in-charge Eric Domingo earlier said he received a report that one of the victims had methanol poisoning.

Methanol, according to the FDA, a widely available chemical that has many industrial applications is also found in household products and fuel for aircraft.

Non-toxic trace amounts of methanol can also be naturally found in fruit juices. It can also be a product of natural fermentation and is found in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

The FDA said higher concentrations of methanol in alcoholic drinks can happen when methanol is deliberately added to alcoholic drinks.

Signs and symptoms of methanol poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, hyperventilation and feeling of breathlessness. Blindness can also happen in severe cases.

The FDA said the Cosmic Carabao Gin was manufactured by Juan Brewing, Inc.

In its website, Juan Brew said the clear liquid craft gin is “an out of this world citrus-forward Gin,” made with “distilled water, neutral spirit (from sugarcane), juniper berries, coriander seeds, dayap lime, angelica plant root, kaffir leaves, green, cardamom pods.”

In its Facebook post, the company said it is now verifying reports but did not address questions regarding the product’s certificate of product registration.

“We would like to emphasize that our company is dedicated to the highest standard in [the] processing of our products and puts the health of our consumers above all,” it said.

In a separate advisory, the FDA said it has ordered the “sealing of all raw materials, including in-process distillates, and seizure of all unregistered Cosmic Carabao Gin” in the facility of Juan Brewing Inc. and all those that are on sale in the market.

It also requested local government units and law enforcement agencies to ensure that this product is not sold or made available in their areas of jurisdiction.

The FDA also warns the public against the consumption of the said product as “this is currently unregistered and has been confirmed to contain a high level of methanol.”

“Consumers must also exercise extreme caution in buying alcoholic drinks, especially those that do not have labels, poorly printed labels or with broken seals,” it added.

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FDA warns public against injectable glutathione for skin whitening

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Courtesy : Unsplash

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public about the dangers of injectable glutathione for skin whitening.

The FDA said there are no published clinical trials that evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no guidelines for appropriate doses and duration of treatment.

In the Philippines, there are beauty salons, wellness spas and beauty clinics offering beauty enhancements like intravenous drip using skin lightening agents.

“Side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening include toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Also of concern is the possibility of Stevens Johnson Syndrome,” their statement reads.

The FDA adds that they also have not approved any injectable products for lightening skin. They said they only approved the ones that are being used as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents such as HIV, hepatitis C and B.—AAC

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