Free trade in AEC will have its positive and negative impacts. For the pharmaceutical industry, speed is of the essence in terms of remaining competitive, according to Mr. Vivek Dawan, CEO and Chief Coach of Mega Lifesciences.
In Thailand, registration of new products can take longer than 2 years, with an additional 2 years required for registration in second target markets, causing a delay of 4 years before a product can finally be exported and sold. Taxes, he points out, are not the problem.
ASEAN countries should harmonize their registration processes for pharmaceuticals in order to facilitate the process as in other industries. Registration in one country should be honored throughout the community.
Thai companies face difficult competition from, for instance, Indian companies that can register new pharmaceutical products in 1 month.
“Free trade should level the playing field in order to better serve consumers, bringing drugs to market more efficiently and encouraging innovation on the part of producers,” Mr. Vivek observed.
Indonesia is the largest pharmaceutical market in ASEAN, but has legislation in place in order to protect their domestic industry. The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are all high-potential markets, as is Myanmar in the longer term.
Mr. Vivek and Mega have done business throughout ASEAN for 20 years, working closely with pharmacists as a key part of their business model. He is aiming for 10% growth this year, while the company has seen 18-19% growth over the last three years.
Mr. Vivek emphasizes a wellness model as a key part of his company’s philosophy, advocating prevention rather than the cure of disease across society. The government has a key part to play in encouraging a healthy population such as by building areas for recreation, while private companies should also reward good health on the part of their employees in order to avoid health insurance claims. Insurance companies likewise should reward good health, while hospitals instead of focusing on treating disease should promote wellness.
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