4 PH firms express interest to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines

Published March 20, 2021, 3:31 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Four local pharmaceutical firms have expressed interest to go into manufacturing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines,  particularly on a fill-and-finish vaccine manufacturing arrangements, officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Saturday, March 20.

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, who chairs  the Task Group  on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection (TG-VES), and DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya both confirmed that members of the local pharmaceutical industry were eyeing to pour in their resources to set up up a “local vaccine industry.”

“Four local companies expressed interest to manufacture vaccines,” Guevara told the Manila Bulletin in a text message. 

During the 39th founding anniversary celebration of the DOST’s  Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) on Wednesday, March 17, she noted that as early as March 2020, DOST has started to coordinate with some of its international partners to initiate collaborative talks on vaccine development.

Guevara said the Sub-TWG on Vaccine Development has  been coordinating with members of the local pharmaceutical industry that expressed interest to go into production of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly on a fill-and-finish vaccine manufacturing arrangements.

In a Viber message, Montoya also confirmed that four local companies have signified their intention to forge partnership with foreign companies to produce coronavirus vaccines. “Yes, four companies are interested. That is true,” he told the Manila Bulletin. 

In an interview GMA’s Dobol B TV, he expressed optimism that as more COVID-19 vaccines got the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more companies will be interested in venturing into vaccine development and production in the country. 

“Pinoy-based po yan, ‘yan po ang mga local companies sa ating bansa na makipagpartner , for the first time, makipagpartner sa foreign vaccine developers para magkakaron tayo ng kakayanan na mag-manufacture sa ating bansa (These are Pinoy-based, they are local companies in our country that are interested to partner with foreign vaccine developers so we can have the capacity to manufacture vaccines in our country.),” Montoya told the GMA’s Dobol B TV when asked if the companies are Philippines-based.

Guevara and Montoya explained that  under a fill-and-finish vaccine manufacturing arrangements, the country will import the vaccines and put them in a vial, ampule or single-shot syringe for commercial distribution. 

Montoya noted that it will take 18 months to three years to set up fill-and-finish facilities.

He cited the importance of having local  manufacturing vaccine industry, saying that “it will enable us to have some degree, or maybe a  high degree of vaccine self-sufficiency.”

He said to attract potential investors in the local vaccine production industry,  the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has stepped up effort to craft policies on fiscal incentives.