More foreign pharma firms should be invited to Philippines

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Inviting more foreign pharmaceutical companies to set up manufacturing facilities in the Philippines may help the country expand its science and technology base given the potential manpower training it will also bring in, according to a key stakeholder in the local pharmaceutical industry.

Unilab Inc. senior vice president for business development Jose Maria Ochave said local drug manufacturers are seeking to improve government-to-government (G2G) engagement with countries that have a higher likelihood of forging technology transfer relationships.

Ochave cited Japan as an example, noting there is a push on the part of the Japanese government for its population to use generic medicines.

“And we all know it’s very expensive to produce not just medicine, but any other product in Japan and therefore, there is a thought that perhaps you can invite the Japanese to come over, establish their facilities in PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority), especially for the Japanese market,” he said.

“What’s the benefit to us? The benefit is that our own manpower here gets to be trained by these Japanese pharmaceutical companies and we expand our science and technology base here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ochave said Taiwan is also a potential for G2G engagement as Taiwan has a very small market and the Philippine market is big for them.

“And therefore, any manufacturer like Taiwanese manufacturer may find it encouraging to establish a facility here in the Philippines, plus the long historical relationship between (the two countries) and the population of Taiwan or the Chinese and the Filipino-Chinese and, of course, the entire Filipino population here,” Ochave said.

The company official also identified Cuba as another potential country for G2Gs, given its advanced science and technology.

“I think the stated preference of Cuba is always G2G, we don’t know whether this is possible, but I think we are going to try,” he said.

Health and life sciences are among the industry clusters that are under the priority program of the Department of Trade and Industry for the next six years. Other clusters include the industry, manufacturing and transport, technology, media and telecommunications.

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