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DOH chief unaware of pyramiding schemes, gifts to doctors

By: Maila Ager - | April 30,2024 - 08:45 PM

DOH gifts doctors

Department of Health Secretary Ted Herbosa during the Commission on Appointments hearing on December 5, 2023. | Noy Morcoso /

MANILA, Philippines — No less than the country’s health chief had no knowledge of the alleged multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes in the medical industry until the issue was raised before the Senate.

Facing the Senate probe on Tuesday, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said he only heard of some of the perks that doctors allegedly received from some pharmaceutical companies but not about this MLM scheme.

“Ang alam ko trips to foreign conferences, and probably meals in expensive restaurants…” Herbosa said, responding to Senator Raffy Tulfo’s queries during Tuesday’s Senate committee hearing on health.

READ: Doctors accepting gifts from drug firms may lose license – DOH

(What I know is trips to foreign conferences and probably meals in expensive restaurants…)

Exorbitant gifts

“But itong scheme wherein prescription is counted, and quota is made yung muti-level marketing, ngayon ko lang nalaman na may ganung multi-level marketing. At ngayon ko lang nalaman ganun ka exorbitant yung mga gifts…” the  DOH chief said.

(But this scheme wherein prescriptions are counted and quotas are made—I only learned about this multi-level marketing now. And I only knew this now how exorbitant the gifts are…”

READ: Ejercito files reso calling for probe into alleged doctor – pharma collusion

Herbosa mentioned the luxury cars that erring doctors supposedly received from a local drug distributor, later identified in the news reports as Bell-Kenz Pharma Inc., in exchange for prescribing its brand of medicines.

Pyramiding scheme

Later pursued by the panel head, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Herbosa repeated that he never heard of the scheme before until he was asked about it in the previous hearing of the committee and later received messages from social media about Bell-Kenz.

READ: Senate to investigate alleged pharma-doc ‘pyramiding scheme’

Only then did he say he started inquiring about this alleged MLM scheme?

“Nagtanong din ako sa mga kakilala at meron ding second hand information sila na totoo daw…” Herbosa said.

(I also asked some acquaintances, and they also have second-hand information that it’s true…”)

During the hearing, bell-Kenz’s Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Luis Raymond Go, repeatedly denied that the company engaged in any MLM scheme.

“Bell-Kenz Pharma Inc. vehemently [denies] the misinformed and unfounded allegations leveled against our company,” the company said in a statement issued over the weekend.

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TAGS: doctors, DOH, gifts, pyramiding scheme

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