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PBBM eyes establishment of “pharma-zones” to reduce prices of medicines, ensure efficient regulatory process

MANILA -- President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed health officials to study the establishment of so-called pharmaceutical economic zones or “pharma-zones” to bring down the prices of medicines and ensure efficient regulatory process.

During a sectoral meeting in Malacanang Tuesday on streamlining the country’s drug regulatory processes, President Marcos said pharma-zones will address the development and manufacture of common generic drugs that will boost local supply and bring down prices to the “true generic level similar to India.”

“Pharma-zones should reduce prices. For the moment, ‘yung mga critical sa atin ngayon, we are hoping to follow the one that has been introduced in India, for example, naibaba talaga nila ‘yung presyo ng kanilang drugs at saka nakapag-export pa sila,” the President said during the meeting.

“So, we want to be in the same place so that the cost of medicines is a little too high, it’s not a little too high, it’s too high. Kailangan natin maibaba ang presyo to true generic. So, if we produce it locally, we are going to bring down, but we have to get the accreditation, we have to get the authority to be able to produce those drugs and to be able to distribute them as quickly as possible,” he said.

To do so, the President said, the government should encourage both foreign and local investors to put their money in the Philippine pharmaceutical sector by putting up the pharma-zones which is similar to the ecozones being monitored and evaluated by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in which investors get certain tax and other financial incentives in order to bring down the cost of manufacturing.

“We are talking to foreign, hopefully foreign investors, but we are also talking to the locals. My theory here is that, at the very least, we provide the locals and the foreign investors with an equal playing field. We give everyone a chance to do that. To do whatever they want. But now, it’s not really regulated,” he said.

Pharma-zones consolidate companies that are engaged in all aspects of drug manufacturing including research and development, clinical testing and trials as well as regulation.

The sectoral briefing was attended by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs Frederick Go, Director General Samuel Zacate of the Food and Drugs Administration and Director General Ernesto Perez of the Anti-Red Tape Authority.

In a press briefing in Malacanang after the sectoral meeting, Zacate stressed the creation of pharma-zones will boost local drug production in three areas identified by PEZA.

“So it will have a role, the FDA will have a role so that pagpasok po ng isang gamot, deretso testing, deretso registration para po magkaroon po ng mabilis at malaki ang lawak ng coverage especially those essential medicines, like for example the generic drugs and the antibiotics that has been approved by the stringent regulatory authority of the different countries,” Zacate said.

“Napakaganda po ng proyekto ng ating Presidente kasi kung tatlo po iyan, it will give more influx of essential and generic drug. As of now, there are three main, but iyong isa is I think the Clark, but the two has yet to be determined by the PEZA itself kasi hindi pupuwede makapag-determine iyong FDA. We just there to streamline the process,” he said.

The President had directed the FDA to make the drug application process more accessible and efficient through a one-stop shop scheme to encourage both local and foreign pharmaceutical firms take part in drug manufacturing to make medicines more affordable. (PND)

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Andrea Bancud


Information II from the Creative Production Services Division of PIA Central Office who also writes scripts for IEC materials such as AVP, TV Commercial, Radio Commercial and print materials. 

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