Indian pharma firms asked to invest in PH

Published October 19, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Department of Trade and Industry has urged Indian pharmaceutical firms to set up manufacturing facilities in the Philippines and assured them of faster issuances of permits for medicines imported from their country.

 Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (Bloomberg)
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (Bloomberg)

The assurance was made by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez during yesterday’s consultation with Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Philippines, Inc. (FICCPI).

Rex Daryanani, president of FICCPI, raised the concerns among Indian pharmaceutical companies about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) slow processing of approvals for medicines and drugs coming from India.

Daryanani noted that while the Philippine government has been wanting to bring down the cost of medicines in the country, approval of cheaper and imported medicine brands coming from other countries, especially coming from India, takes a long time.

“Sometimes it takes two to three years for FDA to approve,” Daryanani told Lopez.

As a response, Lopez said this is something that is being discussed with FDA.
“You have our support on this,” Lopez said. “We are basically discussing with FDA how they can adjust and we’re telling them [the approval process] should be faster”.

But aside from marketing their medicines into the country, Lopez also urged Indian pharmaceutical companies investing on manufacturing facilities here too.
He noted that aside from bringing down the cost of medicines here, producing these essential medicines in the country they can also export medicines to other countries.

“That’s our invite to them [to set up manufacturing facilities]. We want to create manufacturing capacity here so we will also have products to export,” Lopez said.

“There might be some ongoing business to business discussions now about it already,” he added.

For his part, Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said the medicines coming from India could be a “tool” to bring down the overall cost of medicines in the Philippines.

“We have very healthy trade relationship with India when it comes to medicine. Medicine consists about 12 percent of all imports from India and that’s about $200 million a year, most of it, or 90 percent of it, is by the government,” Domingo said.

Domingo also said that with the recently passed Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, the government is poised to bring in more drugs and healthcare supplies from the South Asian country.

“Right now, the FDA is streamlining the processes. We are going to come up with easier guidelines [on the importation of medicines] beginning 2020,” he further said.

The trade consultation between India and the Philippines was held as part of the state visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind here in the country.

On Friday, Lopez also witnessed the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the FICCPI and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Lopez said the deal with lead to more interactions between companies and private-sector driven investment opportunities that will be beneficial to the Philippine economy.