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Philippine Senate asks FDA to follow enabling laws in drafting vapes, HTP guidelines

The Senate asked the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to follow the enabling laws in drafting the guidelines for the regulation of heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in the country.

In the recent Senate deliberations on the budget of the Department of Health (DOH), Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed concern that the FDA was going beyond the enabling law in preparing the implementing rules and regulations for HTPs and vapes.

“It has been a big issue with us. Because some agencies appear to go beyond their enabling law, what the enabling law provides,” Sotto said.

FDA, an attached agency of the DOH, was tasked to draft the general guidelines for the implementation of Republic Act No. 11467 and Executive Order No. 106 which allow the sale, distribution and taxation of HTPs and electronic cigarettes or vapes.

Sotto asked Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the 2021 budget of the DOH and its attached agencies, to guarantee that the draft guidelines would remain faithful to the enabling law.

“Yes Mr. [Senate] President, the director-general [of FDA] is nodding his head with thumbs up.  I will remind them that we are very conscious of their not exceeding their authority.  They should just be guided by the law,” Cayetano responded, referring to FDA Director-General Dr. Eric Domingo who attended the budget hearing.

Two leading members of the House of Representatives earlier called for the suspension of the public hearings by the FDA on HTPs and vapor products after an FDA official confirmed that the agency received grants from foreign anti-vaping groups.

The FDA held virtual public consultations on proposed guidelines for the regulation of vapor products on October 6 and on HTPs on October 8.   While the FDA initially denied receiving foreign funds, Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing cited the grant given by Bloomberg as support to “the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).”

Consumer group Vapers PH said the foreign grants had contaminated the framing of the guidelines for the regulation of e-cigarettes and HTPs.

Deputy House Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano then moved to initiate a full-blown House of Representatives investigation on the FDA.

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