"We have a primordial role to serve the needs of our population in case of emergencies like the bird flu and other diseases
of the developing world that Multinational Corporations (MNCs) or indigenous manufacturers are not able to supply," he summed
"We would like to have good new products that can be exported. We also plan on maintaining our leadership position in the
country. Ten years from now, all our facilities will be brand new, even our headquarters. We will be the leaders in South
East Asia", he promises. New facilities are a way for GPO to significantly increase its export activities.
Currently, GPO continues its R&D on the second line ARV drugs which are no longer under patent protection. "We are applying
for WHO-GMP Prequalification Inspection and expect to get the approval and be certified by April of 2007" says Lt. Gal. Mongkol.
Reducing dependency on imports
Like most key players of the pharmaceutical sector, Lt. Gal. Mongkol stressed the importance of annihilating the endemic dependency
of the Kingdom. "We have to save our budget to reduce the number of imported drugs. We must develop our own products and be
a self-sufficient economy (...) We can't do this by ourselves. That is why we are constantly looking for partners."
Participants across the board are fighting Thailand's dependency on imported pharmaceutical and raw materials. The Thai government
hopes that promotional privileges and incentives through the Board of Investment in Thailand (BOI) will enhance the national
industry. To do so, the BOI has come out with an investment promotion policy specifically related to the pharmaceutical industry.
"The pharmaceutical industry is one of the key sectors for our economy, especially when we are talking about the wellbeing
of our people. Therefore, we would like to enhance investment with the thought of manufacturing more drugs in the Kingdom,"
says Satit Chanjanavakul, Secretary General of the BOI.
Meeting higher standards
"In the past, we only promoted the API manufacturers, but in August last year we saw an urgent need to upgrade the manufacturing
standards of our indigenous manufacturers," recalled Satit. We agreed then that we would work together to help them upgrade
and reach international standards." In order to be competitive on the manufacturing side, it was decided local manufactures
should comply with the international Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention and Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme
(jointly known as PIC/S) by 2008.
The pharmaceutical projects that BOI chose to promote will receive import duty exemptions on machinery and exemptions of five
to eight years on corporate income tax, depending on the project's location. These incentives were designed with the purpose
of encouraging existing drug manufacturers in the country to improve their operations and invest in new factories.
It will also be required that all BOI promoted pharmaceutical companies achieve Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards
that correspond with PIC/S within two years of beginning operations. To Satit, the upgrading of the standards should definitely
position Thailand as a prominent pharmaceutical player.
"The upgrading of the companies' standards would certainly not have been possible without our seven years of lobbying," said
Chernporn Tengamnuay, president of the Thai Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (TPMA). TPMA represents local pharmaceutical
companies and helped the BOI and Thailand's FDA, the regulatory body that controls drug registration, meet and discuss these
Production at GPO's plant
"Thailand joining PIC/S is a big breakthrough for the local industry because it guarantees all the drugs produced in Thailand
will be manufactured with the highest standards. This will protect the consumer while helping to develop Thailand as the future
generic hub for the region. We couldn't keep out of the world trends, so sooner or later Thailand had to adopt the harmonization
center based in international standards in order to be competitive both in the region and the world," explained Chernporn.