PEZA crafting guidelines for pharma ecozones

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
PEZA crafting guidelines for pharma ecozones
PEZA director general Tereso Panga

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is finalizing a set of guidelines covering the registration of pharmaceutical economic zones in the country.

PEZA director-general Tereso Panga said the investment promotion agency is coordinating with various government agencies to come up with the registration guidelines.

“We are coordinating with the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries in crafting the guidelines for the registration of pharma zones under PEZA in line with this mandate,” Panga said.

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, PEZA is tasked to accelerate the implementation of the ecozone transformation roadmap through the creation of different types of economic zones, including pharmaceutical ecozones.

According to PEZA, pharma-zones shall serve as hubs for companies engaged in all aspects of medical and drug manufacturing-related activities, particularly in research and development (R&D), as well as clinical testing and trials.

The agency has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the FDA to streamline the applications for permits and licenses to operate for registered business enterprises engaged in the manufacture of food, cosmetic and drug products, including medical devices, and to ensure compliance of ecozone locators with all provisions of the Food and Drug Act of 2009 and other pertinent laws.

Panga is optimistic about the increase in medical and drug manufacturing-related investments with the creation of pharmaceutical economic zones in the Philippines.

During a meeting with the FDA earlier this week, President Marcos floated the idea of establishing pharma ecozones that would serve as one-stop shops to make the drug application process more accessible and efficient.

FDA director-general Samuel Zacate said pharma ecozones established in PEZA-controlled areas would serve as places where the agency could immediately test and register medicines upon entry in the Philippines.

“We are excited and more than encouraged to be facilitating the establishment of pharma ecozones in the Philippines, which will become instrumental in the administration’s efforts to enhance accessibility to medicines and lower drug prices,” Panga said.

He added that these pharma ecozones would boost local supply as well as provide business and capability building opportunities particularly for Filipino small and medium enterprises engaged in manufacturing and tolling of drugs and food supplements.

“We can contribute to the DTI’s science, technology and innovation-driven industrialization strategy through the pharma zones that will seek to strengthen partnerships between global drug manufacturing companies and the local industry players with their integration into the ecozone and global value chains,” he said.

Under Republic Act 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, domestic market-oriented enterprises to be registered in PEZA and other investment promotion agencies are granted fiscal incentives depending on their location and activity.

For health-related activities like manufacturing of drugs and medical R&D, they may enjoy up to 12 years of tax perks.

As of end 2023, PEZA hosts a total of 26 operating companies into the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment or devices generating about P25.49 billion of investments and more than 19,000 direct jobs for the country.

These include Terumo, Arkray Industry, Royale Life Pharma, JMS Healthcare and Philipcare Medical, among others.

Moreover, the PEZA said it is reviving talks with the leading Filipino companies into pharmaceutical-related activities such as Lloyd Laboratories, Pascual Laboratories and United Laboratories Inc., for the establishment of a modern pharma park in the country.

In 2021, Malacañang proclaimed PEZA-registered First Bulacan Business Park, which is seen to host medical R&D for the manufacturing of innovative, over-the-counter and generic drug products, medical instruments/equipment, and pharma cold chain.

This is adjacent to the First Bulacan Industrial City (FBIC) or the Pharma City of the North, which is home to eight pharma-related firms including Lloyd Laboratories, Pascual Laboratories, Lumar Pharmaceutical, Cargill Phils., and Cosmetique Asia.

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