The DTI has committed to help fast-track the registration of medicines in the country in response to concerns raised by Indian pharmaceutical companies that it takes Philippine regulators a long time to release permits.
AFP
Indian pharmaceutical firms urged to set up shop in Philippines
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is inviting pharmaceutical companies from India to establish manufacturing operations in the Philippines to help bring down prices, particularly of specialized medicines.

The DTI has committed to help fast-track the registration of medicines in the country in response to concerns raised by Indian pharmaceutical companies that it takes Philippine regulators a long time to release permits.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters about the invitation on the sidelines of the Philippine-India trade consultations yesterday attended by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Philippines Inc. and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He said the invitation is specifically for the production of specialized medicines currently considered expensive in the country.

“Take note, with specialized medicine, they have their own formulation… So, the price is dependent on that. We just want them to produce here so we can reduce (the price),” he said.

Medicines manufactured in the country, he said, could be sold at lower prices since they are not subject to tariffs and other trade costs.

In addition to bringing down medicine prices, producing drugs locally would help create jobs in the country.

So far, Lopez said no Indian company has approached the DTI to discuss possible establishment of manufacturing facilities in the Philippines.

At the same event, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officer-in-charge Rolando Enrique Domingo acknowledged medicine manufacturing and import as areas of cooperation with high potential.

With the passage of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act that automatically enrols all Filipinos in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and seeks to reduce the expenses for checkups, as well as certain laboratory tests and hospitalization, he said the government would be a major buyer of services, drugs and supplies.

“We need medicines to come into our country. We need good quality and safe medicines and of course, we have to make it affordable because our budget for UHC is not unlimited and if we want to give the services and drugs to our Filipino people, it has to come with a very good price, and I think this is a very good possible area of cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

He said medicines account for about 12 percent of total Philippine imports from India or around $200 million per year, with the bulk or 90 percent purchased by the government.

While there are opportunities seen for Indian pharmaceutical companies, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Philippines Inc. president Rex Daryani sought the help of the DTI in easing the process of registering Indian medicines.

“The registration process can last between two to three years for a single type of drug. The President has already given direction that we want medicine prices to come down. We are actively working with ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority) on this matter… DTI, please help us in hammering this out as soon as possible,” he said.

In response, Lopez said the DTI has been working with the ARTA for improvement in government processes.

Last month, ARTA ordered the FDA to approve all pending applications for renewal of license to operate and certificates of product registration with complete requirements to address the backlog.

 

MEDICINE
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