Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored that the Philippines should continue to push for fairer and more competitive prices of medicines, in his message at the media launch of Aspen Philippines as the first Asian headquarters of leading pharmaceutical company, Aspen Pharmacare.
Also present at the event were South African Ambassador to the Philippines Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, Hon. Anthony Weymouth of the Australian Trade Commission, Asec. Elmer Punzalan of the Department of Health (DOH), and selected officials from Aspen.
Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, noted that the country spends P1.5 to P2.0 billion on drugs annually, representing around 46 percent of total expenditure on healthcare.
“Why is this so? Because local drugs cost two to 30 times more than in Canada or in other Asian countries,” said the veteran lawmaker, citing that in developed countries, medicines only constitute 13 percent of total healthcare expenditures.
Angara, who authored such landmark bills as the Philhealth Act, noted however that the costs of medicines in the country have been brought down, mostly through the passage of the Cheaper Medicines Act (RA 9502).
“The use of generics has become more prevalent, thanks to effective information campaigns,” stressed Angara. “And our continuous push for better, higher quality generics can only be helped along by the entrance of a major player like Aspen.”
Considered one of the top 20 generic manufacturers in the world, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited is the largest listed pharmaceutical company in South Africa, supplying both branded and generic pharmaceuticals to 100 countries. It is also one of the top 10 generics manufacturer in the world.
Angara concluded, “That Aspen has chosen to set up shop first in the Philippines only proves further that we are one of the strongest emerging markets in Asia. And this is a bright, exciting and enticing opportunity. But more importantly, this is a milestone in our efforts to provide quality healthcare to our people through affordable but high quality medicines." (30)
SPEECH VIDEO: ASPEN Philippines Launch - March 28, 2012