Thailand: Critical Need for New Investment - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Thailand: Critical Need for New Investment


Pharmaceutical Executive


GMP pioneers

Among the 171 privately owned Thai companies, only a handful already comply with GMP standards and chose, from scratch, to focus on quality. Biolab for example has been present in the country for more than 25 years and was the first company to meet GMP standards. For the last eight years, the company has invested non-stop in order to enhance its competitiveness, aiming to become a regional player. Last year, Biolab invested $10 million in a facility for injectables, becoming the only company in the country manufacturing these products.

Another GMP pioneer was Siam Pharmaceutical, which modestly started up in 1966 as a pharmaceutical trading company with first-year revenues of just 2 million baht ($56,200). Forty years later, it has grown to become Thailand's leading private pharmaceutical group with an annual turnover of 1.5 billion baht ($47 million).

GMP is no novelty for Thawan Cheukarndee, chairman of Siam: "GMPs were implemented in our plant years before they were first introduced in Thailand and later enforced by the authorities. To further assure the effectiveness of our products, we started doing our bioequivalence studies 30 years ago," he remembered.

Regional integration


Satit Chanjavanakul
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) harmonized standards could be seen as one of the factors influencing cross-border business opportunities but also a more standardized quality platform in the region which would force companies to comply.

ASEAN integration and harmonization is seen by Prof. Pakdee Pothisiri, former secretary general of the FDA as a great opportunity for the local industry: "We will take the regional harmonization into consideration. We have already adopted the common technical dossier and a common technical requirement. Once this is all put into place, I don't see why we couldn't become one of the pharmaceutical hubs in this region," he explained.

The FDA has in the past been a great contributor to the modernization of the industry. Prof. Pakdee mentioned the creation of the one-stop center that, besides accelerating the process of registration helped strengthen the links between the administration and the industry. "The work environment is completely different, so is the way in which we offer our services. It is actually similar to the private sector. By showing the way, we are trying to get the local industries to change their behavior and to become more service-oriented," he said.

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Multinational Corporations Wanted


First Ever Thai Manager at the Head of Pfizer's Local Operation
Satit Chanjanavakul, secretary general of the Thai Board of Investment (BOI) is confident that Thailand will gain a regional position: "Our geographical location makes us the gateway to the ASEAN region. We also have great infrastructures, which makes it very easy to reach all the countries in the region," he concluded.

Nevertheless if it is to claim the status of regional hub, Thailand will first have to attract Multinational Companies (MNC) back. Although MNCs outperform their local counterparts by 39 percent versus only percent in local gross margins, even if most MNCs still have incorporated local subsidiaries, they have already gradually shut down all their Thai production facilities.

Global trends to centralize manufacturing, lower import tariffs in Thailand, rising local labor costs, and access to low-cost outsourced manufacturing may explain the situation.


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