Thailand to become the Medicine Centre of Southeast Asia

Japanese drug makers are having an intent in setting up their main manufacturing sites in Thailand.

Thailand has been a major exporter of medicines inside Southeast Asia with a value of around $474.5m in 2019. There is a forecast to expand it even further in the coming five years, according to a Fitch Solutions report, to $502m by 2024. A major part of these exports (57%) go to nearby countries including Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines. As these countries are on the way to enlarging their medical access, therefore the need of Thai pharmaceutical is rising.

The rise in demand has also enticed multinational companies to set up and grow their manufacturing operations in the country. Mainly Japanese drug makers are giving strong signals to establish Thailand as their main manufacturing area for producing and repackaging medicinal products for Southeast Asia.

In 2019, the value of the Thailand medical product’s market grew to 176 billion baht (US$6 billion). Thailand ranks above Singapore as the most significant importer and exporter of medical products in the ten-member Associations of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the basis of Krungsri Research, a unit of Japan’s biggest financial services group, MUFG. Krungsri predicts that the yearly growth rate of Thailand’s healthcare device market will rise this year and in 2021 in between 8 and 10 percent.

The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is also supporting the country’s growth as a main exporter of medicines in the area. As such the merge is expected to be a slow process, the harmonisation of pharmaceutical regulations and the deletion of technical boundaries will allow drug makers to export products from Thailand.

The Thai government has also put a total regulatory structure in order to keep up local research and development venture for example derivations of blood, vaccine, proteins and Advanced Therapy Medical Products (ATMP).

Investors are also enticed by Thailand’s proven track record in medical care. The country was hitherto looking forward for medical excellence back in 1927 when the existing King Rama X’s grandfather, Prince Mahidol, graduated as an M.D. from Harvard University. Presently, Thailand has a universal public health care system taking care 99 percent of the 69 million populations. 

According to a report all these attempts will motivate the local firms to invest more in the R&D sector which is at the moment controlled by multinational firms like Pfizer, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKlin.

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