AYALA Healthcare Holdings, Inc. said local manufacturing at scale will be instrumental in lowering the overall cost of medicine, as will digitalizing the drug regulator.

Paolo Maximo F. Borromeo, the company’s president and CEO, was citing recommendations made by the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC).

The PSAC had proposed the digitalization of the Food and Drug Administration to expedite drug approvals; and to provide support for medicine to be manufactured in the Philippines.

According to Mr. Borromeo, Philippine manufacturers cannot as yet compete on scale with rivals from other countries.

“We were not able to give them much investment and attention before, so we were not able to make them big; therefore, we don’t have the right level of scale to be competitive,” he told BusinessWorld on Friday.

“Indonesia, Thailand, or India have scale. You can be more competitive with scale. Traditionally, we find it hard to compete with imports,” he added.

Mr. Borromeo said the government can help scale up domestic drugmakers by giving them preference in procurement and making it easier for them to export.

“The government already provides incentives and other benefits to local manufacturers, but we need a little bit more. One is in finding partners for procurement. When there is government procurement for medicine, they should encourage procurement from local manufacturers,” he said.

He said the government should also make it easier for exporters to obtain permits and clearances in aid of helping Philippine manufacturers achieve scale.

“We have a lot of local manufacturers who want to export; they have a lot of products they want to sell outside of the country, but there are really many steps and barriers for our manufacturers to export,” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile