A more conducive environment needed for investors

February 01, 2024 | 15:53
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Last year marked Pharma Group’s 25-year journey of partnership in Vietnam. That year was even more significant for healthcare as we have witnessed several key laws issued with great improvements, notably the Law on Bidding and the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment.

We believe in the power of innovation to help address the challenges facing our healthcare system and to drive socioeconomic growth. Pharma Group members, who consistently invest a minimum of 10 per cent of global revenue in research and development activities, fully embrace the directions of Vietnam for our sector in various resolutions.

A more conducive environment needed for investors
Emin Turan, chairman, Pharma Group

When talking about fostering innovation, for us, there are two key aspects: improving patient access to innovation, and incentivising the development of an innovative pharmaceutical ecosystem.

The next two years presents us the opportunity for significant improvements towards these two objectives, most notably via the amendments to the Law on Pharmacy (LoP) and the Law on Health Insurance, which will shape Vietnam’s healthcare in the next decade.

The industry has high expectations for the coming period of policymaking and is eager to contribute in a meaningful way.

Therefore, we are raising three main proposals. First is improving patient access to innovation: today, only 9 per cent of new medicines launched globally in the last decade are available in Vietnam. Out of those, only 27 per cent are accessible to patients in the public hospital channel.

In order to speed up access to new medicines, we strongly urge adopting the regulatory reliance mechanism as recommended by the World Health Organization and increasingly being deployed by other ASEAN countries, to speed up the approval timeline while maintaining Vietnam’s authority for decision-making.

To enable patient access to those medicines via the public healthcare insurance channel, thereby reducing out-of-pocket spending, we commend the Ministry of Health’s commitment and efforts to update the National Reimbursement Drug List on a more frequent basis, at least every two years and that the next comprehensive update will be completed in 2024.

The second aspect is creating a more conducive environment for investors. The innovative pharmaceutical industry represents the majority of multinational corporations that have invested in establishing foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in Vietnam.

Over the last five years, while being permitted to import our products directly, FIEs had to operate in a very complex policy environment. As manufacturers, our ultimate goal is to ensure quality medicines reach patients safely, continuously, to meet treatment needs.

The current draft LoP includes the same restrictions as today, which causes not only disruptions in information throughout the supply chain, inhibits companies to interact normally with partners, increases compliance risks for multinationals, but also will send the wrong signal about Vietnam’s business environment for foreign investment.

We ask for a revised LoP that enable foreign importers to operate in an efficient and sustainable manner, to fulfil our role and responsibilities – both at a global level and in Vietnam.

The third factor is implementing sector development goals. To become a regional leader in pharmaceuticals, especially in an era where countries are competing to increase their attractiveness for foreign funding, it is critical to focus on Vietnam’s strengths and provide incentives that are truly competitive, especially compared to those in ASEAN.

For the industry, the most meaningful incentives are those in policies, such as those directly linked with market access. We would encourage incentives to cover a wide range of investments including manufacturing, clinical trials, and more.

The innovative industry commits to support the implementation of headline policies every step of the way. We seek the government’s consideration to appoint the Pharma Group as an official member of the Steering Committee.

Investment in healthcare is an investment for the future, and we are fully committed to working with Vietnam in this challenging yet exciting journey.

Opportunities abound for innovative pharma industry Opportunities abound for innovative pharma industry

Countries around the world are hoping to entice investment for their innovative pharmaceutical industries in order to bring socioeconomic benefits towards sustainable development strategies. Emin Turan, chairman of Pharma Group, talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about the specific opportunities for Vietnam in this regard.

By Emin Turan

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