Incentives for local pharma, health-care sectors urged

By Alden M. Monzon@AldenMonzonINQ

February 27, 2023 12:00:00

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) has urged the government to put in place an incentives system specific to the local industry, as well as improve the ease of doing business in the country to entice more investors in this sector.

"We have to learn from our neighboring countries what are the best practices, what makes it easy, how easy it is for us to set up a business, how the government is also incentivizing, building manufacturing sites in the Philippines," PHAP president Diana Edralin told reporters in a recent interview.

"One of the requests that we want is some predictability in terms of the regulatory approval process," she said, specifying the challenges they are experiencing when it comes to obtaining local licenses and permits.

The PHAP official said that tax incentivization is but one element in the overall effort to attract more investments to develop the pharmaceutical sector and health-care industry.

"The tax incentivization is only one aspect. Can I set up a site in two weeks? Will I get my permit in two weeks' time? The regulatory process is also critical," she said.

Edralin said that it used to take two to three years to get regulatory approval for their products from the Food and Drug Administration, but was since cut down to more reasonable time frames.

With the reliance-based regulatory system adopted by the Philippine regulator in 2020, the PHAP official said they were able to trim this process down to 48 days for some drugs.

She said that under the system, drugs that are already approved in another country get a faster approval process through coordination between their respective regulatory agencies.

In November of last year, the Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) said that only 32 percent of pharmaceutical products being sold in the Philippines are locally manufactured, meaning that the majority of the medicines bought in local stores are imported.

PPMA president Higinio Porte Jr., said that these are mostly imported from India and China.

He said further that local manufacturers are losing in price competitiveness with products from these two countries, citing that more investments and stronger government support are needed to reverse the situation. INQ