DOH warns pharmacists selling high-priced lepto drug Doxycycline
Marje Pelayo • August 13, 2018 • 2894
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
MARIKINA CITY, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned pharmacies that are selling high-priced leptospirosis medicine Doxycycline.
Duque stressed that the price of doxycycline drug ranges from P10.00 to P30.00 depending on brand. Any amount higher than that is considered overpriced and pharmacies imposing unauthorized markup will be ordered closed.
“Ang mga botlika huwag pong samantalahin ang panahon kung kailan mataas ang pangangailangan sa mga gamot. Huwag pong itaas ang presyo at may batas po kayong nilalabag. Pwede po kayong makasuhan,” Duque warned.
The Health Secretary assured, however, that the agency has enough supply of doxycycline which patients can avail for free in local health centers.
On Monday (August 13), Duque personally checked on the condition of evacuees in Bagong Silangan in Quezon City and in Malanday Elementary School in Marikina City where most of the monsoon-hit families stay.
The DOH distributed an additional 25,000 tablets of Doxycycline to local government units of Marikina City for prevention from leptospirosis infection.
Aside from doxycycline, the DOH also donated boxes of assorted medicines against rainy day diseases such as diarrhea, fungal infection, and influenza.
To date, the agency has already distributed about P1.35M worth of medicine and medical supplies to calamity-hit areas such as San Juan City, Marikina City, and Rizal, while the fund is ready for release, should LGUs in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Ilocos Region, all affected by the monsoon rains, request for it.
All DOH-accredited hospitals are also on code white alert to immediately address emergency situations amid the inclement weather. – Aiko Miguel / Marje Pelayo
The risk of getting water-borne illnesses, like leptospirosis, is often much greater during the rainy season.
Health experts said this is because floodwaters and other extreme weather-related events cause rodents and other wild and domesticated species to move into the city.
In the Philippines, cases of leptospirosis have been spiking in the recent weeks due to rains and heavy flooding.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that from January 1 to August 3 this year, more than 900 cases of leptospirosis were recorded, 300 of which are from Metro Manila. Out of these cases, 106 fatalities were reported.
According to the World Health Organization, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. It is an infection in both wild and domesticated animals but rodents are implicated most often in human cases.
Human infection can occur through “direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment such as surface water, soil and plants.”
The most common route of infection is exposure to water contaminated by urine, such as floodwaters, and through skin abrasions and the mucus of the nose, mouth and eyes.
How leptospirosis affects your body?
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cybele Abad, in an interview with UNTV Digital program Lifesaver, said that when leptospirosis bacteria enter the body, it spreads through blood and infects the cells.
“Kapag halimbawa after ng isang bagyo tapos lumusong sa baha tapos may bukas na sugat sa paa, usually pwedeng makapasok yung Leptospirosis (bacteria) sa open wound sa paa… Tapos dala ng dugo, iikot sa buong katawan yung leptospiros at magkakaroon ng mga sintomas ng leptospirosis,” Abad said.
Watch this online episode of Lifesaver for more information on how leptospirosis affects your body.
Signs and Symptoms
The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is two to four days.
In the early stages of the disease, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, haemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.
But according to Abad, many of leptospirosis’ symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases, so it is important for a person suspected with this infection to seek immediate medical consultation and tests.
“Kapag (tingin) po na may posibilidad na leptospirosis, kailangan dalhin sa ospital para mabantayan yung mga sintomas. Kailangan din pong ma-diagnose ito, usually through some blood test, puwedeng blood culture o kaya may diagnostic test para malaman kung leptospirosis or hindi,” she said.
What to do to prevent infection?
To avoid leptospirosis, health experts advise the public to take up measures, which include:
Avoiding swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or flood water.
Use of proper protection like boots and gloves when work requires exposure to contaminated water.
Draining of potentially contaminated water when possible.
Control rats in the household by using rat traps or rat poison, maintaining cleanliness in the house.
The illness usually lasts for a few days to three weeks or longer and can be treated with antibiotics. But without treatment, recovery may take several months.
The more severe phase of the disease may lead a person to have kidney or liver failure or meningitis.
Lifesaver is a UNTV Digital program that offers basic first aid training essential to anyone who happens to be a bystander to an accident or emergency. It also educates viewers of imperative emergency response lessons and indispensable disaster preparedness tools to be able to save lives in times of calamities.
For more information on dengue, other basic first aid and emergency response tips, visit Lifesaver’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.
The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has turned its gymnasium into an alternative ward for leptospirosis patients.
This is to accommodate patients with leptospirosis and be provided with immediate treatment for the deadly disease.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the recent rains that caused flooding had contributed to the increase in the number of leptospirosis patients in Metro Manila alone.
To date, the DOH has recorded 106 fatalities and more than 900 cases of leptospirosis. 300 of which are from the NCR.
“It’s really a problem because you know the environmental, sanitation and hygiene do affect the health of our people because the local government, for example, do not do their efficient garbage collection, so certainly it raises the risk of the populace,” DOH Sec. Francisco Duque added.
This, however, is still low compared to what was recorded last year in the last 2 years.
The DOH then urged the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective surroundings to prevent leptospirosis. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf
However, rather than having a dialogue, the senator believes it would be better for Duque to explain the issue to the public.
“At the end of the day its between him and God, it’s between him and his conscience, it’s between him and the public,” Lacson told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.
Lacson recently revealed that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building being leased by PhilHealth in Pangasinan.
Duque has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.
The senator also bared that the health chief has been setting up meetings with several congressmen who are allies of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
It was during Arroyo’s presidency when Duque was appointed as Health secretary in 2005.
“Ang impormasyon ko nakikiusap siya sa kaalyado ng dating Pangulong Arroyo na magkaroon ng pagpupulong sa mga kongresista, kung bakit hindi ko alam,” Lacson said.
(Based on the information I received he is talking with the allies of former President Arroyo to have a meeting with congressmen. Why? I don’t know.)
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to investigate Duque and other issues dogging the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Phillhealth).
Lacson hopes that Duque will attend the inquiry to shed some light on these issues, particularly the alleged corruption within Philhealth.
“It seems na meron talagang mafia-like group sa PhilHealth na nagmamanipula ng pondo,” he said.
(It seems there really is a mafia-like group in PhilHealth that manipulates funds.)
Lacson said his exposé about the anomalies in PhilHealth is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to fight corruption, which the chief executive emphasized in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
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