US pharma giants commit to Vietnam

May 12, 2022 | 14:00
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As Vietnam is striving to attract more private and foreign investment in the healthcare sector, US pharma giants are continuing to reinforce moves to expand in Vietnam to tap into the growing healthcare demand in the country.
US pharma giants commit to Vietnam
Pfizer manufactured three billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, Le Toan

Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long and US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in pharmacy, medical equipment, and technical and professional knowledge between institutes, schools, and hospitals at a March meeting.

The minister especially called for US investment in the production of pharmaceutical materials, drugs, and medical devices, as well as medical diagnosis and treatment activities. “The Ministry of Health (MoH) will create favourable conditions for licensing, inspection, and appraisal of the quality of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others for US investors,” Long said.

Healthcare and pharmacy have been traditional pillars of the two countries’ cooperation over past years, and now the two sides are looking towards future cooperation.

Global healthcare group Abbott has in recent times received authorisation from the MoH’s Department of Medical Equipment and Construction for the sale of its COVID-19 antigen self-test.

Abbott has been present in Vietnam for about three decades and has been partnering with the local government, agencies, and stakeholders. It has also provided medical supplies for hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Bac Giang, Binh Duong, and Dong Nai provinces among others.

To join efforts with Vietnam’s National Strategy on Non-communicable Disease Prevention and Control in the 2015-2025 period, Abbott has introduced many breakthrough technology solutions in the market, which are all part of the company’s long-term commitment toward sustainable development by 2030.

Similarly, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has made meaningful steps that enable contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) in emerging pharma markets, including Vietnam, to produce generic versions of Merck & Co’s COVID-19 antiviral pill, molnupiravir.

Vietnam’s Stellapharm is one of 27 CMOs under sublicensing deals with the Swiss-based Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which has a licensing deal with Merck.

In February, the Drug Administration of Vietnam under the MoH granted marketing authorisation for three antiviral pills, including molnupiravir Stella 400, ensuring emergency access to the drug for Vietnamese at an affordable price.

A representative of MSD said that it has invested billions in COVID-19 research, development, and manufacturing efforts, mobilising its scientific expertise and resources to contribute to the global pandemic response.

In recent developments, MSD also sponsored the Scientific Evidence of Gender-neutral HPV Vaccines symposium, hosted by the Vietnam Association of Preventive Medicine, in Ho Chi Minh City in March and Hanoi in April. It provided the latest updates on HPV-related pathologies for healthcare professionals.

Pfizer is also continuing to expand and enhance manufacturing capabilities and processes, which includes bringing on additional Pfizer/BioNTech sites and contract manufacturers around the world to produce the vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna are the main COVID-19 vaccines in Vietnam, and the country had received nearly 77 million doses by the end of 2021. To date, Pfizer and BioNTech have delivered more than 3.1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to 172 countries and territories worldwide, including 27 in Asia-Pacific.

Pfizer successfully manufactured over 3 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine in 2021 and expects to manufacture an additional 4 billion doses in 2022.

Like MSD, Pfizer signed a licence agreement with the MPP that enables generic manufacturers to produce low-cost, generic versions of Pfizer’s oral treatment nirmatrelvir. In March, the MPP announced that it had signed sub-licence agreements with 35 generic drugmakers, including Vietnam’s Stellapharm.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) also has a strong presence in Vietnamese healthcare via various projects and programmes.

In July 2021, the MoH approved with conditions the J&J COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Late last year, J&J continued to reinforce its activities when it – together with the National Tuberculosis Programmes of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – hosted the Asia-Pacific Tuberculosis Forum 2021 with the goal of advancing regional progress toward ending tuberculosis, which remains one of the leading causes of death from infectious disease in the region.

By Bich Thuy

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