Press Release
January 6, 2021

Expanding Pharma Zones: A 'win-win' solution for health and pandemic-stricken economy - Tolentino

MANILA - Administration Senator Francis 'Tol' N. Tolentino believed that accelerating the establishment of pharmaceutical manufacturing zones under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will not only give Filipinos better access to cheaper medicines but would also help stabilize the pandemic-stricken economy.

Tolentino said expanding the so-called 'Pharma Zone' has both short and long term goals since aside from providing the public with locally manufactured but less expensive vaccines just like in the case of COVID-19 disease, it can also bring forth more investments and jobs for the pandemic-stricken economy.

Tolentino noted that despite limitations in the delivery of health services, the Philippines remains one of the biggest pharmaceutical markets in the Southeast Asia region--next only to Indonesia and Thailand--based on a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

To date, more than 55 vaccines against measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, and rubella have been made available in the local market by research-based pharmaceutical companies according to Tolentino.

The Senator earlier in December filed Senate Resolution No. 508, urging PEZA and the Board of Investments to accelerate the establishment of pharmaceutical manufacturing zones in the country and encourage the growth of the medical industry.

He noted that the local pharmaceutical market will grow to reach P241.9 billion in 2025 following the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Act, based on a recent analysis made by the England-based GlobalData London.

Tolentino said the national government should take advantage of the current situation amid the pandemic since expanding the Pharma Zones can boost the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) up to 4.5 percent which was projected by IMS consulting in a study commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP).

The First Bulacan Industrial City, which was established in 1991 and dubbed as the "Pharma City of the North," currently houses several firms, such as Lloyd Laboratories, Lumar Pharmaceutical, Pascual Laboratory, Cosmetique Asia, Cargill Philippines, Northfields Laboratories, Transcend, and Medi-RX Laboratories.

The Phase II expansion of the Bulacan Industrial City, which would house the proposed Pharma City II, is just awaiting the go-signal from Malacañang.

The local pharma industry currently infuses about P146 billion in economic output annually--employs more than 60,000 Filipinos and supports close to 100 other industries in the country.

During the budget deliberations last November, Tolentino has bared the proposal of a western pharmaceutical giant to establish a manufacturing plant for COVID-19 vaccines to cater the needs of nations affected by the global pandemic.

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