Foreign pharma firms urged to set up facilities in PHKey stakeholders are keen to invite pharmaceutical companies

Key stakeholders are keen to invite pharmaceutical companies particularly from Japan, Taiwan and Cuba to establish their manufacturing facilities in the Philippines as the country expands its science and technology base.

Lawyer Jose Maria Ochave, senior vice president of Unilab Inc. for business development, said they seek to improve government-to-government (G2G) engagement with countries which have a higher likelihood of forging technology transfer relationships.

Ochave cited Japan as an example, noting there is a push on the part of the Japanese government for its population to use generic medicines.

“And we all know it’s very expensive to produce not just medicine but any other product in Japan and therefore, there is a thought that perhaps you can invite the Japanese to come over, establish their facilities in PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority), especially for the Japanese market,” he said.

“What’s the benefit to us? The benefit is that our own manpower here gets to be trained by these Japanese pharmaceutical companies and we expand our science and technology base here,” he added.

Ochave said Taiwan is also a potential for government-to-government engagement as Taiwan has a “very small market” and the Philippine market is “big” for them.

“And therefore, any manufacturer (like) Taiwanese manufacturer may find it encouraging to establish a facility here in the Philippines plus the long historical relationship between (the two countries) and the population of Taiwan or the Chinese and the Filipino-Chinese and of course the entire Filipino population here,” he said.

Ochave also identified Cuba given its advanced science and technology.

“I think the stated preference of Cuba is always G2G, we don’t know whether this is possible but I think we are going to try,” he added.

Ochave presented the result of the consultation for the health and life sciences cluster.

Health and life sciences is among the industry clusters which are the Department of Trade and Industry’s priorities for the next six years. Others include the Industry, Manufacturing and Transport (IMT) cluster; Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) cluster; and Modern Basic Needs and Resilient Economy (MBNRE) cluster.

Ochave cited other recommendations of participants of the health and life sciences cluster, including aligning policies of various agencies to encourage local manufacturing.

“One such example is having a green lane for product registration for locally manufactured products and if it is possible given our existing procurement laws to give preferential treatment to locally manufactured products, especially for government purchases,” he said.

Ochave also highlighted the need to strengthen public-private partnership to improve access to innovative medicines instead of focusing on price control that tends to inhibit entry of these medicines.

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