PH, India form working group on cheap meds

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2018 08:00 PM

MANILA - Filipino and Indian officials have agreed to hold talks on bringing more affordable Indian medicine to the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Filipino and Indian trade officials discussed the possibility of the Philippines procuring more medicine from India, and of Indian pharmaceutical firms setting up shop in the Philippines.

The talks were made ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to New Delhi to meet with fellow Southeast Asian leaders and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week.

Duterte had discussed this with Modi in November 2017 on the sidelines of a regional summit in Manila, telling the Indian leader that the Philippines seeks to have better access to Indian-produced medicine that are cheaper yet effective.

“There was an indication that we want Indian companies to invest in [the] pharmaceutical industry in the Philippines. And we want to, of course, learn from the experience of India on how they are to produce cheaper medicine,” Roque said.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Philippines and India agreed to form a working group which shall study the matter.

“That technical working group was given about two months to give a report on how we can really strengthen the partnership, the relationship between Philippines and India on pharmaceuticals,” Lopez said.

“We basically wanted them to focus also on key medicines that will be needed especially by the poor.”

Lopez said the Philippines’ intention to procure more Indian medicines does not mean that the Cheaper Medicines Act has failed in its purpose.

“What we are just saying is that we would like to encourage more sourcing of cheaper medicine or what we say affordable medicines from more sources here in India,” Lopez said.

“We have about four Indian pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines already. So we want to add on to that… we want basically just to have better access and more of these and more alternatives.”