Saudi firm pursuing $30-M pharma project in PH

Published November 19, 2020, 6:30 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

A Saudi pharmaceutical firm is pursuing its plan to manufacture basic medicines in the country with investments of $30 million, according to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

 PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza divulged during a Senate hearing for the 2021 budget of the Department of Trade and Industry where PEZA is an attached agency that Basher’Er Addawa Trading Company (BA Ltd.) is pursuing its investments in the country.

BA LTD was among the companies that expressed interest to invest in the country and signed a letter of intent during President Duterte’s visit to the Kingdom in 2017. Plaza said that the company came last year to undertake a due diligence study with the intention to produce basic medicines. She added the company is also closely watching what kind of CREATE Bill will eventually pass at the Senate.  

Plaza said that BA initially plans to produce basic medicines in the country, but with COVID-19 the Saudi firm might include the production of vaccines later in their operation.

Based on its original plan, BA would like to invest in pharmaceutical manufacturing and export  generic drugs, high demand therapeutic drugs and other specific drugs for oncology, diabetes and hypertension. The company also plans to invest in IT services and other projects in partnership with local government units or the national government.

The Saudi firm’s project is expected to generate 1,500 workers in an economic zone under PEZA.

 During the interpellation, Senator Francis Tolentino raised the state of the pharmaceutical industry in the country which could probably predates the pharma industries of Vietnam and Thailand.

He noted of a pharmaceutical park in Malolos Bulacan called the First Bulacan Industrial City, which is composed of pharma firms including Filipino-owned Pascual Laboratories. The ecozone was established in 1990 with the Board of Investments.

This time the ecozone has applied under PEZA to expand with 25 hectares, but is among the ecozone development projects that remained pending with the Office of the President.

The expansion is expected to create the “Pharma City II” with 17 hectares lot under PEZA.

“We have the talents to group all of these together not reinventing but putting in place a central distribution center with the help of PEZA and Department of Science and Technology,” he said.