‘Botika Natin sa Nayon’ now 311

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO——Community-based drugstores run round-the-clock by villagers in Zambales now count at least 311, selling paracetamol tablet at 50 centavos, amoxicillin capsule at P2.85 and other medicines that are cheaper by 100 to 300 percent than those sold in commercial drugstores.

    The outlets, called “Botika Natin sa Nayon,” have been established by the Zambales War Against Poverty Foundation Inc. in over three years since 2005, according to ZWAP executive director Ramon Lacbain II, former vice governor of Zambales.

    The outlets are spread in Subic, 45; Castillejos, 21; San Marcelino, eight; San Antonio, 16; San Narciso, 11; San Felipe, 17; Cabangan, 8; Botolan, 21; Iba, 11; Palauig, 14; Masinloc, 27; Candelaria, six; Sta. Cruz, 23; and Olongapo City, 83.

    The seed money of these outlets was sourced from Priority Development Assistance Fund, otherwise known as pork barrel, of two senators, he said.

    Senators Edgardo Angara and Francis Pangilinan released P600,000 and P500,000 respectively from 2005 to 2006, a ZWAP report showed.

    The idea is simple. Each outlet, managed by 10 ZWAP members, is entrusted with P3,000-worth of generic and branded medicines.

    They are allowed to make a profit of 20 percent. The members either take this as an income or use it as additional capital to expand the venture, Lacbain said.

    From just having 10 members beginning with the first outlet in Barangay Cawag in Subic, ZWAP has over 3,000 members now.

    The 311 outlets are currently supported by six distribution centers based in Subic, San Felipe, Iba, Masinloc, Sta. Cruz and Olongapo City.
    The licensed pharmacists assigned in those centers assist those managing the outlets, Lacbain said.
    On-the-counter prices at the distribution centers are higher by 20 percent to encourage clients to buy stocks from the outlets, he said.

    The outlets also sell a 2-mg Loperamide capsule at P1.00, 500-mg Mefenamic acid capsule at P1.00. A 2-mg Salbutamol tablet at 50 centavos, a 500-mg Carbocistine capsule at P1.25, and an 80-mg aspirin tablet at  P1.75.

    “When we established the first outlet in Cawag on Aug. 25, 2005, we targeted to put up only 200 outlets in three years. We’ve surpassed the target because more residents came to us and organized their outlets in their own villages,” Lacbain said to explain the mushrooming of community drugstores.

    It is the only known private sector-driven project of its kind in Central Luzon, he said.
    Shirley Navarro, the ZWAP team leader in Balaybay resettlement, Castillejos, said the “Botika Natin sa Nayon” is greatly appreciated by the residents because they don’t have to go all the way to the town proper and spend money for travel fare to be able to buy medicines.

    “Our medicines are affordable and available 24 hours,” Navarro said then.

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