PH pharma industry seen doubling in 5 years, Indian firms positioning

Philippine pharmaceutical industry is expected to double in the next five years following the government’s implementation of universal healthcare program as Indian pharmaceutical firms take a closer look at making the Philippines, one of top 10 markets globally, become a part of its value chain. 

Higinio Porte,Jr., vice-president of Pascual Laboratories and president of Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), said at the India-Philippines Pharmaceutical Meet Inaugural Ceremony that the robust projection of the domestic industry is largely due to the government’s universal health program and strong support for the local pharmaceutical manufacturers. 

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So far, Porte said, the Philippine pharmaceutical industry is the third biggest in Southeast Asia. For the past three years, the Philippines posted the second highest growth in the pharmaceutical industry in the ASEAN region. 

“So, there is great opportunities to do business together,” said Porte citing potential supply for API (active pharma ingredients) and bulk supply of pharmaceutical products. He also raised collaboration in product testing and clinical testing among other things. 

Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu S. Kumaran in his closing remarks cited the importance the Philippines being India’s largest export market in ASEAN.

The Philippines imports $1.5 billion worth of pharmaceutical imports and accounting for one third of India’s exports to ASEAN. The Philippines is also in the top 10 markets for Indian pharmaceutical products globally.

He urged Indian firms to look at the priority of the Philippines for new molecules to be introduced in the market. He said that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has keen interest for anti-cancer medication and chronic illness.

Likewise, he raised some regulatory issues with the Food and Drug Administration even as he urged Indian firms to focus clearly on following compliance requirements of the FDA. 

He reported that one large India pharma company approached the Indian embassy complaining of its dossiers that have been pending at the FDA for more than two years already. 

He told Indian firms of the plan of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to set up a pharmaceutical ecozone and for Indian firms to do domestic drug manufacturing here. 

According to the ambassador, local manufacturing operation in the Philippines would be feasible if there is a sustainable commercial model wherein companies investing here will get some potential path to public procurement. Without this government procurement assurance, he said, it will be difficult to do local drug manufacturing.  

But he also urged for other innovative partnership where Indian firms can do some parts of the industry’s value chain in the Philippines. “It should be an important value addition,” he said.  He told Indian pharmaceutical firms that he could not see a successful pharmaceutical ecozone in the country without Indian participation. He said this is something that Indian pharma firms can look into with a long term view.