SC nixes bid to lift TRO on RH products
September 14, 2016
THE Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the bid of the Solicitor General calling for the lifting of the temporary restraining order it issued in June last year that barred the Department of Health from acquiring and distributing contraceptive products Implanon and Implanon NXT to the public.
In an en banc ruling, the SC said that since it has directed the Food and Drug Administration to conduct hearings on the opposition of the petitioner, Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc. (Alfi), to the said drugs, lifting the injunction at this time is not yet right.
“To lift the TRO at this time is would be to grant a motion for execution before a trial,” the en ban decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza said.
The High Court also explained that the injunction did not mean that the FDA should stop fulfilling its mandate to test, analyze and scrutinize and inspect drugs and devices, saying that what is being stopped is the grant of certification or re-certification of contraceptive drugs without affording petitioner due process and the distribution and administration of the questioned drug contraceptives and devices, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, until they are determined to be safe and non-abortifacient.
The implants, thin rods inserted under the skin, release hormones that prevent pregnancy for up to three years.
The SC also said it found out that the FDA certified, procured and administered contraceptive drugs and devices without the observance of the basic tenets of due process, without notice and without public hearing, despite the constant opposition of the petitioner, adding that even if the law creating the DFA vested it with the powers as the primary agency to determine whether a contraceptive drug or certain devise has no abortifacient effects, its findings and conclusion should be allowed to be questioned and those who opposed the same must be given a genuine opportunity to be heard.
The SC also ordered the DOH and the FDA to come up with guidelines, procedures in the screening, evaluation, approval, purchase and distribution of contraceptive drugs, hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient family planning products and supplies.
The high court told DOH and FDA to observe the basic requirements of due process for those opposing the purchase, distribution of the said products, publication and notice of hearing and follow the standard laid down under the constitution and RH Law that what should be allowed are those products “that do not harm or destroy the life of the unborn from conception/fertilization.”
The SC, in a unanimous ruling last April 8, 2014, declared the RH law constitutional though it rejected eight of the law’s provisions. – Ashzel Hachero