Emphasizing the significant role of the pharmaceuticals industry in the Philippine economy and citing that the country is one of the most attractive pharmaceutical markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the government assured continued support to further the growth and competitiveness of the industry.  

Speaking at the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association’s (PPMA) First General Membership Meeting and Induction of Officers of 2022 at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong City recently (April 8, 2022), Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo recognized the pharmaceutical industry as a transformative one for it is significant in improving the health care sector in the Philippines.

REAFFIRMING PARTNERSHIP NOW AND BEYOND. Mr. Higinio P. Porte, President of the Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), (left) confers a plaque of appreciation on Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head and Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo (right) at the First General Membership Meeting and Induction of 2022 Officers of the PPMA held recently on April 8.  

The Philippines ranked as the 11th most attractive pharmaceuticals market based on the 2019 report of BioSpectrum Asia Magazine.  

“By 2024, it is forecasted that the total pharmaceutical market will be valued at US$4.17 billion (Php 216 billion). The Philippine health expenditure is on the rise, with consumer health expenditure (CHE) growing with double-digit growth in the last three years with an average growth of 11 percent,” he said.  

Undersecretary Rodolfo likewise highlighted the fact that the Philippine pharmaceutical market is dominated by a few key players in almost the entire value chain – from production to distribution and retail. While the Philippine pharmaceutical industry is dominated by multi-national companies – accounts for more than half the total value of sales (56.5 percent) –  local companies are now posting strong competition, specifically in the sale of generic drugs. 

The Undersecretary pointed out that the Philippine government supports the planned initiatives of the PPMA towards a resilient pharmaceutical industry value chain, as the pharmaceutical exports have not grown as fast as those in neighboring countries.  

The BOI, as the leader of the country’s Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), has been at the forefront of harnessing the Philippine manufacturing capacity in the fight against the pandemic. As the pandemic still lingers, the local production of oral therapies against COVID-19 is crucial to save lives and reduce hospitalization of Filipinos.  

Recently, the BOI greenlighted the application for registration of Lloyd Laboratories, Inc. as a domestic producer of Molnupiravir, an oral therapy for COVID-19 patients. An existing manufacturer of various medicines, Lloyd Laboratories expanded its production facility in Malolos, Bulacan, which will be used to produce the said drug. The project has an estimated cost of Php24 million and an annual capacity of one million 400 mg capsules of Molnupiravir.  

In December 2021, the BOI has accepted the completed Integrated Roadmap for Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry. The working drafts were developed and discussed in consultations, wherein the PPMA was one of the active participants. Under the said Roadmap, by 2030, the Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry will have a “resilient & agile value chain,” ensuring pharmaceutical security for Filipinos towards better health outcomes.    

Following it was the 1st Stakeholders Meeting held in January this year, in which the stakeholders, consisting of key government agency stakeholders and the private sector representatives from the three major pharmaceutical industry associations, agreed on the creation of a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the said roadmap.  

Subsequently, in February this year, the 1st Steering Committee Meeting was conducted. The activity was joined by high-ranking officials from the government and private sectors tasked to guide the Working Groups (WG) in implementing the identified priority projects and programs to achieve the Roadmap vision and targets. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) leads the Steering Committee with the Health department as alternate Government Chair and three industry associations, which includes the PPMA, serving as Industry Co-chairs on a rotation basis.    

As the PPMA acts as the co-lead of BOI in the Working Group on Strategy 1 on the Policy Development and Enhancement, the BOI looks forward to closely working with the Association in coming up with effective strategies to ensure that we can enhance and develop policies that will help the industry grow, the Undersecretary added.  

Further, Undersecretary Rodolfo stressed the importance of strategic partnerships between the government, the private sector, academe, and other relevant institutions, in providing more targeted interventions to address specific binding constraints of the pharmaceutical industry.  

Moreover, the BOI wants to home in on the R&D and supply chain development of the priority herbal plants as well as establish and maintain a cohesive policy environment for the development of the industry. The Philippines is making significant progress in developing nature-based products. Herbal drugs for COVID-19 and dengue are being developed by the industry, while active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) in herbal drug products such as lagundi and sambong, are already being produced locally. 

According to the Undersecretary, the growth of local production of herbal medicines will spur its development given its backward industry linkages, as a robustly expanding wholesale and retail sector for herbal medicines will generate income and employment opportunities for Filipinos.  

Marked as a milestone for the PPMA, the said general meeting was the first official foray into a face-to-face meeting with its members since the pandemic lockdowns. The members of the said association are seeking the pharmaceutical industry in the country. The new set of Officers of the PPMA inducted in the meeting were the following: Mr. Higinio P. Porte, President, Pascual Laboratories, Inc., Ms. Lucita Y. Soriano, Vice-President, Hizon Laboratories, Inc., Mr. Alexil M. Alipio, Secretary, Lejal Laboratories, Inc., Ms. Shirley S. Alampay, Treasurer, Premier Creative Packaging, Inc., and Mr. Alexander B. Vergel De Dios, Auditor, Interphil Laboratories. END