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While increased generics volumes have led to opportunities for local manufacturers, the high number of local competitors, facing off against an increasing number of regional enterprises and Multi-National Companies (MNCs) looking to market branded generics, meant that only the strongest were able to successfully navigate through the changes. At the same time, as the government targeted innovative drugs on the List of Essential Medicine, many MNCs had to change their focus to stay profitable in Thailand's state-dominated market.
It is survival of the fittest in the land of smiles, but those MNCs and Thai manufacturers that find the right answer in dealing with the new conditions are blossoming and, moreover, have a bright future ahead with market growth picking up again, expectations of more proportional spending in the government healthcare budget, and the opening up of ASEAN's 600 million consumer market by 2015 as part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). During several weeks of interviews with key stakeholders, Focus Reports went to look for the winning strategy in this fast-changing environment.
HEALTH COVERAGE IN HARMONY?
The hospital channel represents 80 percent of the pharmaceutical market, and the government drive toward increasing accessibility to healthcare has essentially been successful. Measures are set to continue. "We do not have a policy to merge the different schemes into a single one, but we do try to harmonize them to reduce inequity in service, quality, and efficiency," said Minister of Public Health Wittaya Buranasiri. "Expenditures in our system are currently very high, and although it is not our policy to just cut the budget, we try to harmonize our three healthcare schemes by changing the management between the schemes, and improving the benefit package while bringing the quality standards to the same levels."
A more proportional structuring of the government healthcare budget is expected to lead to dramatic market growth. Increased spending of five percent within Universal Coverage would mean an additional 800 Baht (25 USD) for about 45 million people. Such a measure would improve healthcare and open up spending on pharmaceuticals as well.