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India, PH in talks to set up ‘pharma zones’

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India, PH in talks to set up ‘pharma zones’

India, the largest provider of generic medicines globally, is in talks with the Philippine government to set up manufacturing zones here for Indian pharmaceutical companies wanting to tap the Asean market, a top official said on Tuesday.

  1. Ramakrishnan, first secretary of the Embassy of India, told reporters in an interview that the trade departments of both governments floated the idea of “pharma zones” in a joint working group meeting last year.

While everything is still under discussion, the pharma zones aim to attract Indian pharmaceutical firms to set up manufacturing operations in the Philippines.

The local pharmaceutical industry recorded $3.5 billion in sales last year.

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Of this figure, Indian firms, which mostly do trading in the Philippines, contributed a meager $500 million, he estimated.

“It’s something like Peza where you have a zone where Indian companies do their manufacturing here and cater to the Philippines and also markets outside. But it all depends on the response of the Indian pharma companies in order to take it forward,” Ramakrishnan said on the sidelines of a business forum.

Ramakrishnan was referring to economic zones registered under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, which grant incentives to firms that are predominantly export-oriented.

These zones will be beneficial to the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which accounts for around 20 percent of global exports, according to data from the Indian government.

Indian firms will likely be attracted by the size of the local market – currently dominated by generic medicines both in sales and volume—as well as the Asean market with a market potential of over 600 million people.

In a related development, market leader United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab) will soon expand its facilities here in the Philippines.

Jose Maria Ochave, senior vice president of the Business Development Group of Unilab, told reporters that the company was exploring the possibility of setting up another manufacturing plant north of Metro Manila.

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