PHAP's response to unprecedented challenges chronicled in 'The Power of Innovation’ report

PHAP’s response to unprecedented challenges chronicled in ‘The Power of Innovation’ report

Innovation triumphs over adversity
/ 11:22 AM November 23, 2023

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) today launched a landmark report titled “The Power of Innovation,” offering an insightful perspective of lessons learned and ways forward coming from a global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the unprecedented challenges the pandemic presents, “The Power of Innovation” bears witness to the remarkable resilience of human collaboration and ingenuity. Amidst the turmoil, the Philippine biopharmaceutical industry stood strong, demonstrating an extraordinary capacity for partnerships and innovation in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.

This report underscores the pivotal role of PHAP and its member companies in the nation’s response to the pandemic. PHAP member companies acted swiftly to ensure the accessibility of essential supplies such as testing kits, vaccines, and antiviral treatments. Their unwavering commitment to maintaining the pharmaceutical supply chain, even during strict lockdowns, has been instrumental in safeguarding public health.

“Capturing these insights ensures that the knowledge gained from our experiences can serve as a valuable resource for current and future challenges as we fully navigate our way out of the impact of the pandemic. In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, documenting our successes becomes a crucial compass guiding us towards effective strategies and resilient responses. The ultimate power of innovation lies in its ability to save and improve lives so that the people can contribute to social and economic progress,” said Diana Edralin, President of PHAP.

Key report highlights

Innovation Pharmaceutical

The report contains the contributions of the Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry to nation building. PHAP and its member companies are contributing in four ways: defending against COVID-19; helping to increase access to medicines; helping drive economic growth; and collaborating to build healthcare ecosystems. 

In the fight against COVID, PHAP members rose to the occasion from the earliest days of the pandemic, as soon as it was clear that this was a global health crisis requiring a whole-of-society approach. The first response was in the form of supporting the frontline workers and in parallel, working with the government to facilitate the swift entry of their medical innovations into the country from test kits, to vaccines, and to treatments. 

For example, PHAP has delivered an impressive 245.54 million COVID-19 vaccines as of June 2022. It has fast-tracked the launch of diagnostic kits to make it easy for companies and families to conduct antigen testing. From anti-bacterial treatments to monoclonal antibodies, working with the FDA, innovative, clinically-proven anti-COVID drugs were made available to help minimize the risk of severe infections and improve overall health outcomes for COVID patients. In the process, this helped better manage patient load in hospitals, shorten duration of hospitalization, and reduce the strain on the country’s healthcare system. PHAP also partnered with the DOH to help educate the public on the safety and efficacy of vaccines to help them overcome vaccine hesitancy. 

Since the declaration of the pandemic in 2020, PHAP Members have worked tirelessly to make the Philippines a priority country to receive supplies of medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics vis-à-vis the country’s health needs. During the pandemic, PHAP Members closely collaborated with the government in monitoring the supply of needed medicines, and even chartered flights to make these life-saving innovations available to Filipino patients amidst global demand and strict lockdowns. These medicines were for COVID and non-COVID conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, antibiotics and cancer among many others. 

One of the report’s key messages revolves around the undeniable link between health and economic development. It stresses the importance of investments in health, not only as means of sustaining economic growth but also as a catalyst for creativity, innovation, and improved quality of life. The pandemic has disrupted conventional economic paradigms, necessitating a recalibration of the discourse around the interplay of health and economic well-being.

With this, the report explores the economic impact of the pharmaceutical industry in the Philippines. PHAP has fueled economic growth with a valuation reaching Php 238 billion. It reveals that the industry’s contribution to the nation’s GDP has seen a significant uptick and that the pharmaceutical sector plays a vital role in employee development and healthcare professional education. 

Beyond COVID-19 efforts, PHAP has significantly advanced medical research, completing and continuing over 154 clinical trials in the past two years. Furthermore, the companies have introduced a remarkable 575 novel drugs over the last five years, spanning across critical health domains such as cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, oncology, and other diseases. These achievements underscore PHAP’s pivotal role in propelling the nation forward through comprehensive healthcare contributions.

“The Power of Innovation” also highlights the contributions of research-based pharmaceutical organizations. These entities have been at the forefront of developing and disseminating essential tools in the fight against the virus, ranging from diagnostic test kits to vaccines. Notably, innovative approaches, such as unique vaccine supply agreements and patent donations to a global “medicine pool,” have been instrumental in ensuring equitable access to life-saving treatments.

Digital technology played a pivotal role in navigating the complexities of vaccine supply and distribution, empowering local government units and enabling individuals to monitor their vaccination records. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies actively engaged in multi-channel communication to disseminate critical medical information, while supply chain providers developed apps to streamline vaccine distribution.

The role of innovation and collaboration

Collaboration remains a central theme throughout the report. PHAP member companies actively collaborated with the government and various organizations to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the pandemic. The report underscores the importance of building bridges and partnerships, including working closely with patient groups, medical societies, hospitals, and healthcare professionals.

The Power of Innovation is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Philippines in the face of adversity. It serves as a poignant reminder that innovation, collaboration, and a shared commitment to health are powerful tools that can help us prepare for the next pandemic and build resilient healthcare systems as no one sector can do it alone,” said PHAP Executive Director Teodoro B. Padilla. 

Moving forward, PHAP commits to collaborative efforts in four key areas. Firstly, it will support the country’s journey to universal healthcare. Secondly, PHAP will continue with best practice sharing with regulatory bodies like the FDA and HTAU, aiming to establish world-class healthcare systems in the country. Thirdly, it will seek to position the Philippines as a Center of Excellence in Clinical Research for ASEAN, fostering collaborative research for medical advancements. Lastly, PHAP will advance knowledge and technology transfers to strengthen the Department of Health’s capabilities, focusing on pandemic preparedness, human capital development, and supply chain optimization. These efforts showcase PHAP’s comprehensive approach to addressing pandemic challenges.

A distinguished panel discussion featuring prominent leaders from national agencies and the health sector was a key highlight of the event. The panel comprised esteemed individuals who have played important roles in shaping the nation’s response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. 

Among the esteemed speakers were Mr. Paolo Borromeo, Health Sector Lead  Private Sector Advisory Council; Mr. Francis Del Val, Managing Director of Fortman Cline Management Services; Secretary Teodoro Herbosa of Department of Health;  Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health; 

Rep. Ciriaco B. Gato, Jr., Chairman of the House Committee on Health; Dr. Samuel Zacate, Director General of Food and Drug Administration; Atty. Rowel S. Barba, Director General of Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines;  and Dr. Francisco Z. Soria, Jr., Vice President, Quality Assurance Group of Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

Additionally, the panel included Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology; Mr. Reynaldo Lignes, Acting Director of the Manufacturing Industry Services – Board of Investments; Atty. Michael Aguinaldo, Chairperson of the Philippine Competition Commission (PhCC); and Assistant Secretary Sarah Lynne S. Daway-Ducanes of the Policy Planning Group of National Economic and Development Council. 

Renowned infectious disease expert, Dr. Nina Gioriani, a Professor and former Dean at the University of the Philippines – College of Medicine; Dr. Minerva Calimag, President of  Philippine Medical Association;  Dr. Lulu Bravo, Executive Director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination; Ms Karen Villanueva, President of the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations; and Ms. Carmen Auste, CEO of Cancer Warriors Foundation and Vice President for External Affairs, Cancer Coalition Philippines. TINGOG Partylist Rep. Jude Acidre capped the event with his inspirational message. 

Their insights and expertise enriched the discussion and shed light on critical facets of healthcare and innovation in the Philippines.


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