"The P500-million in discounts allegedly offered by a drug firm may be peanuts compared to the profits earned by the pharmaceutical companies because of the delay in the issuance of the executive order," he said.
Escudero suggested that this could be the reason why the administration flip-flopped on price control when the law clearly says a maximum ceiling must be imposed on 22 essential medicines.
He said that the governmentâ€™s meeting with officials of drug firms was improper and uncalled for since the law will have to be implemented whether they like it or not.
"The issuance of this executive order could have given immediate relief to many of ourÂ families who are burdened by health care costs especially the high cost of essential medicines," Escudero said.
"The meeting in the Palace was obviously a lobbying session and apparently succeeded for a palace functionary is now mouthing words expressed by a senior official of the country's biggest drug distribution firm," he said.
Escudero said it is lamentable that President Arroyo did not think it urgent enough to sign the executive order before leaving for Egypt.
"To speak about unity among the non-aligned is well and good. But when your country is wracked by three-front rebellion and a widening gap between rich and poor, it smacks of hypocrisy and delusion to the highest degree. This highlights the kind of priorities this administration has and explains the people's increasing dissatisfaction with her," he said.
According to fact sheet of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the prices of drugs in the country are among the highest in Asia. A survey of ASEAN countries shows that retail prices of medicines in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are 40 to 70 percent lower than in the Philippines.