"Now that Thailand can guarantee healthcare for a vast number of our people, we are on our way to becoming the medical hub of Asia. This year only, more that one million foreigners received our high-quality healthcare. Other countries in the region might try to position themselves as healthcare hubs too, but we are different with our modern hospitals and good qualified human resources (HR)" claimed Dr. Prat Boonyawongvirot, permanent secretary of the ministry of health (MOH).
Thailand might already have become a medical tourism destination but the country still needs to sort out serious issues on its local market as the country healthcare system is largely underfunded, the country depends on imported drugs and APIs, local companies are lagging behind in terms of manufacturing practices and international pharma companies have delocalized their production to neighboring countries.
Universal Health Coverage scheme
"The quality of healthcare is very satisfactory," says Dr. Prat. "Today, 47 million people are covered by the new 30-Baht Scheme, the Social Security Scheme covers another 10 million and the rest of the population is covered by a civil servant scheme. In our Kingdom, everybody is guaranteed access to healthcare."
The new government, appointed last fall following a bloodless military coup, has already declared that the 30-Baht Scheme will be replaced by free medical treatment throughout the country. "Hospitals won't be richer or poorer whether or not they receive 30 baht," said the new public health minister Mongkol Na Songkhla.
But there is across-the-industry fear that this could harm the already insufficiently funded healthcare programs, and together with the price erosion put increasing cash flow pressure for the stakeholders.
GPO fulfilling the need of the Thai people
Today, the state-owned company produces more than 200 items, most of them medicines included in Thailand's essential drug list. GPO also manufactures herbal medicines, biological products, and vaccines for diseases including Japanese encephalitis (JE) and diphtheria-poliotetanus (DPT).
"GPO fulfilling the need of all Thai people. Therefore, we have to focus on producing generics by volume and we have to be able to constantly increase capacity while maintaining quality. Our goal is to become the leading generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in Thailand and the near region in producing medicines of standard quality at reasonable prices," claimed Lieutenant General Mongkol Jivasantikarn, GPO's managing director.