Partnerships Save Lives and Boost Economic Recovery


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shown the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs). Globally, partnerships have resulted in the development and manufacturing of diagnostics, vaccines and medicines for COVID-19. At the national level, partnerships have enabled vaccines to reach the most remote municipalities and towns.

The Secretary of the National Authority for Economics and Development (NEDA), Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, said that through PPPs, the government seeks to harness the capacity of the private sector to provide resources and expertise, as well as its ability to undertake large-scale projects in recognition of the country’s situation. budget constraints.

During a lunch meeting with the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Mr. Balisacan stressed the crucial role of the private sector in the government’s strategy to achieve its medium-term macroeconomic objectives. These priorities are outlined in the Marcos Administration’s Eight-Point Socio-Economic Agenda, which is the framework that will anchor the Philippines Development Plan 2023-2028.

“We will use PPPs to address binding constraints to creating more and better jobs in current and future growth engines, such as manufacturing, tourism, IT-BPO. [information technology-business process outsourcing], and creative sectors. They will contribute significantly to the modernization of the country’s energy, logistics, transport, telecommunications and water infrastructure,” he said.

Since the pandemic, the research-based biopharmaceutical industry has been working with the government in its response to COVID-19 in four ways: through research and development of safe and effective diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines; ensure the continuity of the supply of drugs and vaccines despite major difficulties; cascading verified health information to the public; and supporting healthcare workers and communities affected by the pandemic.

Early dialogue and collaborative efforts have proven invaluable in our response to the pandemic. With the same approach, industry is committed to working with government to foster innovation. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., recently announced there would be no more lockdowns. If we are to achieve the President’s directive, it is imperative that we strengthen our healthcare system and work more closely together towards a resilient pharmaceutical system that uses innovation from research and development (R&D) and throughout of the supply chain.

Another lesson is that we must embrace innovation. The country is currently actively involved in conducting clinical trials, and we look forward to partnering to see more of this R&D activity in the Philippines. In terms of number of clinical trials, one study noted that the Philippines is third on the list after Singapore and Thailand. When we participate in global clinical trials, we create early access to innovation, bring in major investments, and build the scientific capacity of our fellow Filipinos to pursue pharmaceutical R&D.

Years of investment in R&D – even in the face of costly failures – have laid the foundation for shortened development times for COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) looks forward to working with NEDA and the government to transform the Philippines into a regional center of biopharmaceutical excellence.

The industry shares the government’s goal of inflaming competition in the industry as the primary means of bringing down drug prices. The dominance of the generic market by volume to date drives down drug prices and provides a wide range of prices and treatment options to government, physicians and patients. The dominance of generics – at nearly 80% of the prescription market by volume – is proof that there is competition in the industry.

Mechanisms to encourage increased competition to reduce drug prices are also in place under the Universal Health Care Act and the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Act. Price negotiation, pooled procurement and partnership with the private sector are mechanisms that should be implemented to bring down drug prices.

It is important to note that countries with low drug prices use a single-payer system where the government negotiates and buys on behalf of its people. A single-payer system is not a simple transfer of responsibility to government, but a strategy to maximize economies of scale alongside negotiations.

Given the lessons learned from the pandemic, open collaboration between the public and private sectors can help save more lives and ultimately revive and sustain economic recovery.

Teodoro B. Padilla is the Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical and Health Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which represents the biopharmaceutical drug and vaccine industry in the country. Its members are at the forefront of research and development efforts for COVID-19 and other diseases that affect Filipinos.