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ARTA looks into pharma extortion report
This, after ARTA director general Jeremiah Belgica was asked during a virtual briefing to check the veracity of information that about three pharmaceutical companies planning to put up vaccine plants backed out as they were asked to pay illegal fees.
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ARTA looks into pharma extortion report

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is looking into a report of alleged extortion experienced by some pharmaceutical companies planning to set up vaccine manufacturing facilities in the country.

This, after ARTA director general Jeremiah Belgica was asked during a virtual briefing to check the veracity of information that about three pharmaceutical companies planning to put up vaccine plants backed out as they were asked to pay illegal fees.

“We’re very much interested to know more about this and pursue an investigation,” he said.

ARTA is part of the agencies working on the creation of a green lane for local vaccine manufacturers.

“We have an ongoing collaboration with them especially because of the green lane. But we target to hold a separate meeting with the alleged concerned parties as soon as we get more details,” ARTA said.

Apart from ARTA, agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration and Department of Science and Technology are working on a joint memorandum circular (JMC) to set up the green lane.

“The JMC for the green lane is already there and very soon we will be rolling this out. The idea is to have a one-stop shop and have everything finished in seven to 20 days, all of the applications from the LGUs (local government units) to the different government agencies,” Belgica said.

He said at least two companies are almost ready to put up a fill-and-finish type of plant.

“They would import it (vaccines) in bulk and they would fill and finish it in this manufacturing plant,” he said.

He also said ARTA expects vaccine manufacturing plants to be built in 10 months once all conditions are met.

A JMC for the green lane is being crafted in line with a directive from President Duterte for the country to have the capacity to produce vaccines against COVID-19.

Earlier, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said vaccine manufacturers would need support from the government through a green lane to expedite the processing of necessary permits.

He added the government’s commitment to purchase locally made vaccines would help facilitate the set up of production facilities in the country.

Firms that have expressed interest in vaccine manufacturing in the country include Glovax Biotech Corp., United Laboratories Inc., IG/IP Biotech and Dr. Zen Biotech.

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