PHARMACEUTICAL manufacturers said they will have no option but to raise prices once their usual margins are halved, but for the moment they are absorbing the higher production costs.

Higinio P. Porte, Jr., Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) president, said: “We hope to maintain certain margins. We cannot… be on the losing end. If we are only getting half of the standard margin, we will need to raise prices.” 

Mr. Porte, speaking on the sidelines of a briefing in Makati City last week, said surging production costs are mainly due to the weak peso.

“The cost of the raw materials and packaging materials increased by as much as 20% but we have to absorb that because we cannot just increase the price of medicine. It would be harder for consumers to afford the medicine. We are absorbing it for the meantime, hoping that this will normalize eventually,” Mr. Porte said.  

The peso closed at P57.23 against the dollar on Friday, strengthening from the Thursday level of P58.19. The peso is coming off a record low of P59 in October.

According to Mr. Porte, key imports include active pharmaceutical ingredients, which are “all imported. The only materials that are sourced locally include sugar, alcohol, and herbal pharmaceutical material like lagundi.”  

“We typically import our materials from India, China, and Europe,” he added.

Mr. Porte added that the Marcos administration should promote the export of domestically manufactured herbal drug products.

“One low-hanging fruit is to tap local requirements and export herbal drug products that only the Philippines can produce. It needs to be competitive globally in terms of safety and efficacy; that is why testing is required. The clinical testing takes five to seven years and a huge amount of investment. We are currently working with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to (develop) 10 herbal medicines,” Mr. Porte said.

PPMA’s members include Pascual Laboratories, Inc., Hizon Laboratories, Inc., Lejal Laboratories, Inc., Lloyd Laboratories, Inc., Interphil Laboratories, and Premier Creative Packaging, Inc. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave