October 7, 2021

Medicine manufacturing may be done locally to keep costs down in the Philippines

According to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, the government is working for measures that would encourage pharmaceutical companies to establish facilities in the nation, boosting the country’s ability to produce generic medications.

Lopez said the government is pressing for steps to provide access to inexpensive medications, particularly for the poor, in a webinar on Wednesday.

“Strengthening the country’s ability to produce and deliver generic pharmaceuticals is one of the ways the DTI is working toward this objective. This is to guarantee that they have a sufficient, equitable, cheap, and efficient supply, particularly at this critical moment when the majority of Filipinos’ health is at risk,” he added.

He went on to say that the Philippines is a feasible site for pharmaceutical companies since it is an excellent source of natural components and herbs utilized in the production of medications all over the globe.

According to the DTI head, the nation may become a manufacturing center for regional pharmaceutical firms as a result of this.

“Our country’s youthful and technologically competent workforce, strong government backing, excellent policy environment, and regulatory incentives may help these businesses,” Lopez added.

The government offers tax breaks to pharmaceutical companies who set up shop here under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.

Aside from pharmaceuticals, the government promotes vaccine producers to develop much-needed vaccines in the nation, especially those producing vaccines against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Meanwhile, Roberto Pagdanganan, head of the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA), said the organization supports efforts to increase generic medication availability and reduce costs in the local market.

According to Pagdanganan, the Philippines has the highest out-of-pocket costs in the region, accounting for 54 percent of total healthcare spending in 2018.

This is much greater than Vietnam’s 44.9 percent, Malaysia’s 35.1 percent, Indonesia’s 34.8 percent, Singapore’s 31%, and Thailand’s 11%.

“The advent of the Covid-19 epidemic has exacerbated this,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pagdanganan emphasized the country’s progress in marketing generic medication. The Generic Act, the National Health Insurance Act, the Cheaper Medicines Act, the Universal Health Care Act, the establishment of the Philippine Pharma Procurement, Inc. (PPPI), and the Botika ng Bayan Program are among them.

He suggested that the government extend Botika ng Bayan in all hospitals and pool the purchase of medications via PPPI for distribution in Botika ng Bayan outlets in government-run rural health units and hospitals to provide greater access to cheaper medicines for the poor.

Medicines for TB, hypertension, diabetes and other illnesses should be accessible at Botika ng Bayan stores, according to him.

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