Marcos 'very keen to see domestic manufacturing of pharmaceutical products': Indian ambassador to PH

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2022 02:26 PM

Work on a vaccine assembly line at the Serum Institute in Pune, India, on July 10, 2020. Atul Loke, The New York Times/File
Work on a vaccine assembly line at the Serum Institute in Pune, India, on July 10, 2020. Atul Loke, The New York Times/File

MANILA - Presumptive President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is "very keen" on developing the Philippines' local pharmaceutical sector, the Indian ambassador to the Philippines said, Monday, after his meeting with the incoming chief executive.

Among the topics discussed during the courtesy visit with Marcos was possible cooperation on the health sector, Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu S. Kumaran said in a press briefing.

"The President-elect was very keen to see domestic manufacturing of pharmaceutical products," he said.

"Indian companies are looking forward to a strong engagement," he said.

Kumaran noted that India was among the Philippines' close partners during the pandemic, when the Southern Asian country supplied several vaccines.

India's Bharat Biotech was among the pharmaceutical companies that received an approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year for the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccines.

"India is one of the strongest partners of the Philippines in the health sector," the Ambassador said.

"I think the new administration will carry forward the dialogue with the view of creating domestic capacities in the pharmaceutical sector to contribute to the health security of the Philippines."

Earlier this year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that local pharmaceutical firms can supply Filipinos' needs of paracetamol and other over-the counter drugs amid alleged shortage in drugstores. 

The national government, however, has been eyeing to put up "fill and finish" vaccine hubs in the country.

Last year, at least 6 companies have expressed interest in establishing vaccination manufacturing facilities in the Philippines in the next few years.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Philippines is interested in procuring affordable medicine from India, claiming that drugs from the United States are expensive.

A year after Duterte's remark, Filipino and Indian officials formed a panel to discuss the possibility of the Philippines procuring more medicine from India, and of Indian pharmaceutical firms setting up shop in the Philippines.

India's pharmaceutical industry currently valued at $41.7 billion, according to India's National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency.

Seventy percent of the World Health Organization's vaccines are sourced from India, the agency said.

India also supplies at least 50 percent of Africa’s requirement for generics, 40 percent of generic demand in the US and 25 percent of all medicine in the United Kingdom, it said.