ARTA eyes lifestyle check on FDA execs, staff under probe

THE ANTI-RED Tape Authority (ARTA) could soon request for lifestyle checks on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employees and officials under investigation.

The request will be made to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) with whom ARTA has a partnership to align work on corruption-related complaints sent to either agency.

The red tape watchdog in a statement on Thursday said it has gathered leads on individuals who could be recommended to PACC for lifestyle checks.

“We also have some leads that we are discussing already with our investigation team,” ARTA Director General Jeremiah B. Belgica told One News on Thursday, adding that he cannot offer more details.

“All of the employees or government officials that ARTA would now be filing a case (against) or investigating would immediately be referred to the PACC for lifestyle checks. Automatic na ‘yan,” he said.

ARTA recently issued a show-cause order to the FDA for alleged delays in processing 600 drug certification applications. The order directs FDA Center for Drug Regulation and Research Director IV Jesusa N. Cirunay to “explain why no administrative or criminal case should be filed” against her.

Ms. Cirunay has seven business days to conduct an inventory of all pending permits, release delayed permits, and submit a compliance report to ARTA. Formal charges may be filed against her if she fails to comply.

Several pharmaceutical firms signed affidavits detailing delays on applications submitted as far back as 2014.

Mr. Belgica said that businesses may have lost hundreds of millions of pesos for products not sold to the public because of FDA delays.

“In the time of pandemic, we have these kinds of problems with our regulatory agency of drugs. They should be more compassionate,” he said.

He added that ARTA is not for or against the approval of specific drugs but instead aims to speed up processing. — Jenina P. Ibañez