By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter
THE pharmaceutical industry said it is hoping to supply more drugs to the Department of Health (DoH) this year en route to hitting a 10% growth target to P300 billion for market size.
The Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) made the projection on the sidelines of the ProPak Philippines 2024 briefing.
PPMA President Higinio Porte, Jr. valued the Philippine pharmaceutical market at P275 billion last year.
“We are looking at an increase of 10% this year, just a little bit bigger than last year. We are looking at growing it to about P300 billion but that doesn’t include imported vaccines, as those are separately procured by the government,” Mr. Porte told reporters on Wednesday.
To achieve the target, Mr. Porte said that pharmaceutical manufacturers are seeking a bigger share of the DoH’s drug procurement program.
Domestic manufacturers supply only 5% of the DoH’s drug needs, with the rest imported.
“So the target in the next eight years is to bring it up to 50%. We are starting with anti-tuberculosis (medicine) as most of them are imported,” he said.
Two members of the PPMA have put in bids to supply tuberculosis medication and have been issued notices of award, he said.
Mr. Porte said the industry cannot yet produce human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatments domestically. The government dispenses free drugs to HIV sufferers at selected hospitals.
“Unfortunately, the anti-HIV products are still patented so we cannot just manufacture them. Aside from that, we do not have the raw materials to do that,” he said.
“So the way to go is to partner with the technology innovators and import semi-finished anti-HIV tablets or capsules and then we will package it here so they can be considered local,” he added.
The PPMA is also seeking pharmaceutical procurement programs to give domestic producers more preferential treatment.
“Currently, what the government is promoting is for local manufacturers to match the price of the foreign manufacturers,” Mr. Porte said, noting that the current preferential policy for Philippine producers applies if their price is within 15% of the bids of foreign manufacturers.
“But we don’t want it to be that way … what we want is for the government to prefer local manufacturers. That is what we are pushing for,” he added.
By the next decade, domestically produced pharmaceutical products are projected to account for 60% of the market.
“Right now, only 32% of the value of the market consists of local drugs. So… by 2030, we want 60% of that to be from local,” Mr. Porte said.
“And the biggest opportunity for that is in the government requirements because the implementation of Universal Health Care will benefit a lot of Filipinos; therefore, the government will be needing more medicine,” he added.
Mr. Porte said the 60% goal has been capped because the industry cannot produce all of the Philippines’ needs.
“We do not have capability to produce biotechnology products and if we want to invest in that, there will be no economies of scale,” he said.
“For example, vaccines. We cannot produce vaccines here in the Philippines and sell it to other countries because vaccines produced in other countries are a lot cheaper,” he added.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers also said that the global economic crisis has caused packaging materials to increase in cost by up to 30%.
“These are being absorbed by the manufacturers because the price increase that we can implement at most is only 5-8%. So we absorb these price increases for the moment, but we are expecting for the economy to stabilize and all the prices of the raw materials will follow through,” Mr. Porte said.
The 4th International Processing and Packaging Trade Event for the Philippines or ProPak Philippines, set for Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, is expected to attract 200 exhibitors.
For this year’s edition, ProPak Philippines will be expanding its focus from food and beverages to include pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.