Thursday, June 04, 2009

Competition among drug innovator companies

A fellow member of our local health coalition here in Manila (CHAT) commented on my earlier posting re "fake drugs and SCLD". He thinks that the counterfeit drugs argument is being used by big pharma in the Philippines to stop others from allowing Filipinos to have access to cheaper medicines from abroad. He also asked what are the other big pharma companies in the world that are not in the Philippines yet.

Parallel importation is fine, it's ok, so long as the parallel-imported drugs are indeed real and not fake or substandard. But if parallel importation will open up the gate for the entry of fake drugs simply because they are cheap (and the channel is easier because the foreign manufacturers, wholesalers and local importers are different companies), that's where I do not support parallel importation.

Cancer is a very messy and expensive disease. My sister in law died of colon cancer about 4 years ago. Several months later, her husband, my older brother, died of prostate cancer. My mother who was beside my brother in his dying months in our province was crying and cursing the government because it was pocketing nearly P3,000 out of P25,000 chemo per session on value added tax (VAT) alone. The government was benefitting and earning big from the sick and the dying!

I am sure anyone will get angry if some of the patients that they are helping will have their conditions worsening if they have taken fake or substandard medicines. Being cheap is secondary to being effective. We may get the cheapest but the most ineffective medicine as well because they are not the real ones.

About innovator pharma companies that are not yet here in RP that I know of, at least not members of PHAP ( are the following:

From the US (

1. Amgen, Inc.
2. Amylin Pharma, Inc.
3. Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
4. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
5. Celgene Corp.
6. Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.
7. EMD Serono
8. Endo Pharma, Inc.
9. Genzyme Corp.
10. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc.
11. Lundbeck Inc.
12. Millenium Pharma Inc.
13. Otsuka America Inc.
14. Purdue Pharma
15. Sigma-Tau Pharma Inc.

From UK (

1. A. Menarini Pharma UK Ltd.
2. Actelion Pharma Ltd
3. Ajinomoto Pharma Europe Ltd.
4. Alexion Pharma UK
5. Alizyme Therapeutics Ltd.
6. Allergan Ltd.
7. Alliance Pharma Ltd.
8. Almirall Ltd.
9. Ardana Bioscience Ltd.
10. Basilea Pharma Ltd.
11. Bausch & Lomb Ltd.
12. Biogen IDEC Ltd.
13. Britannia Pharma Ltd.
14. Cambridge Laboratories Ltd.
15. Cephalon UK Ltd.
16. Chugai Pharma Europe Ltd.
17. CV Therapeutics Ltd.
18. Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Europe Ltd.
19. Daval International Ltd
20. Eisai Ltd.
21. Elan Corporation plc
22. GE Healthcare Ltd.
23. Genus Pharma Ltd.
24. Gilead Sciences Ltd.
25. Brumenthal Ltd.
26. Ipsen Ltd.
27. IS Pharma Ltd.
28. Leo Pharma
29. Lily & Co.
30. MedImmune Ltd.
31. Merck Serono
32. Merz Pharma UK Ltd
33. Napp Pharma Ltd
34. Norgine Ltd
35. Novex Pharma
36. Nycomed Ltd
37. Orion Pharma
38. Pharmion Ltd
39. Pierre Fabre Ltd
40. Pliva Pharma Ltd
41. Procter & Gamble Pharma UK Ltd
42. ProStrakan Ltd
43. Rosemont Pharma Ltd
44. Servier Laboratories Ltd
45. Siemens Plc
46. Smith and Nephew Ltd
47. Solvay Healthcare Ltd
48. Teikoku Pharma UK Ltd
49. Trinity-Chiesi Pharma
50. UCB Pharma Ltd
51. Vernalis
52. Vifor Pharma-Aspreva

From Australia (

1. CSL Ltd
2. iNova Pharma
3. Ipsen Pty Ltd.
4. Mundipharma Pty Ltd.
5. Novo Nordisk Pharma Pty Ltd
6. Shire Australia Pty Ltd

I dont know if all of these companies are medicine manufacturers or biotech and research companies doing work for pharma companies. Not included there are innovator pharma companies from Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, etc.

In short, competition among innovator companies in the Philippines, even among multinationals, is very limited. So if the Philippines can provide a welcome mat for many if not all of those innovator companies from anywhere to come here, and let them slash each other's throat in fierce competition -- provide revolutionary, good quality and safe medicines at competitive prices, aided by lower or abolished medicine taxes -- then us Filipino patients will greatly benefit. And I think that many foreigners needing quality health care will come to the Philippines because they know that there is a wide range of medicines available here from so many innovator companies from around the world.

This will help the local "medical tourism" industry, many private hospitals will also be put up, that will create thousands of jobs for Filipino nurses, physicians, other health professionals. They need not work abroad as foreigner and "kababayan" patients are coming here by the thousands.

That's why I argue always that having more competition, not more government taxation and intervention, will help in having cheaper medicines, more dynamic health care.

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