"Bribe" or No, Pfizer May Get Its Way in Philippines

Last Updated Jul 16, 2009 3:57 PM EDT

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines said she will consider the interests of foreign investors and other "satisfactory" proposals before signing a maximum retail price law that would impose price caps on drugs in the archipelago nation.

The news will cheer Pfizer, which attended a controversial meeting with the government there in which the company offered alternatives to price caps. Politicians in the Philippines allege that the offer -- of discount cards and posters for the president -- a "bribe." Pfizer denies the offer was a bribe. The Inquirer reported:

Malacañang on Wednesday said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would first take into account keeping foreign investors and ensuring public access to cheaper drugs before ordering a price ceiling for essential medicines.

The Palace was apparently backtracking on its tough position on Tuesday that Ms Arroyo was set to sign the executive order imposing maximum retail prices (MRP) by next week.

"If the drug companies do not come out with a response she deems satisfactory, then we might expect her at that point to go ahead with the maximum price ceiling regime," [a presdeintial spokesman] said.

There is a July 18 deadline for Arroyo to complete the list of drugs facing price caps and sign the law.