Posted by: mel | January 11, 2010

Serious Threat of Loom over Chinese Medicines in Indonesia

Kompas.com | Jakarta | 11 January 2010

The applying ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) threatens to overrun Indonesia with Chinese medicines if the government provides no protection. This threatens to further weaken the pharmacy industry and cause bankcruptcies.

“Cheap imported Chinese medicines could overrun the market. Especially since China produces and markets more generic branded medicines,” Indonesian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (GPFI) chairman, Anthony Sunarjo, Sunday evening, Jakarta.

GPFI comprises 208 pharmaceutical companies, and 15 among which are foreign companies with factories in Indonesia. The hundreds of other pharmaceuticals in GPFI include small to middle scale local ones.

Before the FTA, Indonesia already depended on China, especially for the supply of pharmaceutical raw materials. In the 80’s, 80 percent of pharmaceutical raw materials was imported from Europe, and the rest from India and China. It’s very different now, 80 percent comes from China, and a small percentage from India.

“In a large quantity the price is cheaper, so the pharmaceutical raw materials are from China. So they’re imported from China, then formulated locally,” stated Anthony.

Besides from traditional medicines, China is starting to dominate the modern medicines, including hypertension, diabetical, and anti-cancer medicines.

While a small portion of the production materials are imported from India. Even India has started basic medicinal researches with sophisticated technology, for instance new drugs with timed-release so that the patient no longer has to consume a drug three times a day but just once a day. So India is superior in the technology of medicine production.

Other than intensively producing pharmaceutical raw materials, China has also started producing modern medicines for the category of branded generics that are very cheap. “So China isn’t only producing pharmaceutical raw materials, but also finished medicines. This could be a heavy blow for the pharmacy industry, because China can sell its products with cheaper prices.”

With the current health support system, some institutions prefer generic medicines with the cheapest prices. This is a benefit for the people since they can obtain cheaper medicines.

“But on the other side, this is a threat to the survival of the national pharmacy industry.”

With the ASEAN-China FTA, Chinese medicines are predicted to overrun the Indonesian market in the next few years. To be admitted into Indonesia, the medical products must be registered and evaluated first before given distribution permits by the local authority.

“When registering its products, the producer must qualify for good medicine production or the CPOB.  With the Chinese government’s current trend, the Chinese producers might be able to fulfill all the qualifications in the next 2-3 years so in a few more years Indonesia might be overrun with imported Chinese medicines.”  (Evy Rachmawati/C17-09)

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