6 local firms plan to manufacture vaccines

Published March 26, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Six Philippine pharmaceutical firms are planning to venture into local vaccine manufacturing, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez revealed. 

At the President Duterte’s “Kumusta Na Po Mahal Kong Kababayan” broadcast Wednesday (March 24) night to update Filipinos on COVID-19 concerns in the country, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez identified the 6 firms as Greentech, Glovax Biotech, IG Biotech, New Marketlink, Lloyds Laboratories, and Unilab. Lopez did not elaborate on the status of these proposals.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

Lopez said the Board of Investments (BOI) of which he is the chairman is working with the 6 local companies on their plans for local vaccine manufacturing. Lopez said this is part of the continuing push of the DTI for its “Buy Local” campaign. There will be no need to import vaccines and rely from other sources if the country can produce its own local vaccine, he said.

Aside from that, he said, local manufacturing can also create more job opportunities and help the country recovery from the economic meltdown brought about by the pandemic.

Lopez related the government’s drive for local manufacturing to the  successful shift of some manufacturing firms in repurposing their facilities to produce medical grade products such as face masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs) that were in short supply last year due to the pandemic.

From zero, he said, the Philippines has now a monthly production capacity of 2.4 million pieces of N95 masks and 56 million pieces of N88 masks from only 6 million pieces before the pandemic. The Philippines has also a capacity to produce 40 tons a month of spunbond non-women polypropylene fabric. 

For coveralls (PPEs), the Philippines has a monthly capacity of 3.2 million per month from zero; and ventilators to 6 million units monthly. 

He also said that Hyundai plans to produce 300 million of nitrile gloves per year at its factory in Malvar, Batangas. 

In February this year, Filipino-owned vaccine distributor Glovax Biotech said it had initial discussions with the Board of Investments for its proposed P7-billion vaccine manufacturing venture in the country in partnership with EuBiologics and LG Chem of South Korea. 

The proposal, however, hinges on a successful supply agreement with the Philippine government for 40 million doses of next generation COVID-19 vaccines from South Korea.  Glovax Biotech President Giovanni Alingod said they can bring in the next generation EuCorVac-19 vaccines on a staggered basis over a period of six months at 50 percent cheaper than what is currently being offered by the first vaccine producers.