The government is urging pharmaceutical companies from India to establish manufacturing operations in the Philippines to serve the growing demand not just of the local market but also the entire Asean market and other parts of the world.
Senen Perlada, director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Export Marketing Bureau, said Indian pharmaceuticals have been able to develop a market in the country thus, it is now time for India to consider locating in the Philippines.
“The pharmaceutical industry is of course growing in the Philippines but again may I reiterate that perhaps our Indian counterparts might have some hesitation because of the scale if you look only at the Philippines as a market,” he said during an international webinar.
“But please remember, I think we should take a look really at the bigger Asean market for this and I may say that the Philippines would be a good, if not the best hub for Indian companies to manufacture in the Philippines. We have a lot of natural ingredients that have already found their way to some of the pharmaceuticals,” he added.
Perlada identified some of these natural ingredients as malunggay (horseradish), luyang dilaw (yellow ginger), virgin coconut oil, lagundi (five-leaved chaste tree), sambong (sage), ampalaya (bitter gourd), mangosteen, banaba (giant crepe-myrtle), and tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta) herbal plant.
Evariste Cagatan, director for Manufacturing Industries Service at Board of Investments (BOI), said the Philippines currently does not have manufacturers of biologics and vaccines, and “very few” in the manufacture of essential medicines.
“Our existing plants only manufacture finished products, 98 percent of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) used by our pharmaceutical companies are imported from India and China. Thus, there is a big opportunity for the manufacture of the APIs in the country,” she said in the same webinar.
Cagatan said the country is also looking into increasing its research and development (R&D) activities capabilities.
“We would like to participate in clinical trials in the absence of facilities to manufacture vaccines or medicines for the treatment of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). It would be beneficial for the Philippines to participate in clinical trials in order to have greater chances to be benefited early with newly developed medicines for Covid-19,” she said.
Cagatan further said regulators adapted more relaxed and reasonable regulatory processes and procedures during the enhanced community quarantine implemented due to coronavirus.
“As such, we see opportunities for greater ease of doing business especially in pharmaceutical activities that will greatly facilitate entry of investments into the country,” she added.
Philippine Ambassador to India Ramon Bagatsing Jr. underscored the strong presence of Indian pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines.
“With much opportunities for Indian investments and implementation of the Philippine universal health program, we appeal to our friends in India to take the next step in setting up your research and development and manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. A simple matter of doing the packaging in the Philippines will go a long way.
Ultimately, telehealth, telemedicine, telecare, online delivery of medicine and quality healthcare technology is the way forward,” he said.