President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is keen to capitalise on India’s generic medicines industry.
Biateral talks occurred last month between Duterte and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Philippine International Convention Centre in Pasay City. During the talks, Duterte noted the potential of India’s pharmaceutical industry to expand into the Philippines. The proposal came as part of a broader discussion which saw agreements signed on agriculture, defence, foreign services and trade.
‘Medicines people can really afford to buy’
‘You have [medicines]…people can really afford to buy’, Duterte is reported to have said to Modi. He invited potential investors from India to visit the Philippines and open branches in the country. He said ‘we would [be]happy to see you building an investment that would include the medicines.’
‘You go to any other place…it’s very expensive’, Duterte added. He singled out the United States, saying American drugmakers ‘don’t believe in generics because they do not make any money.’ Duterte championed the ‘cheaper, almost socialised pricing’ of Indian medicines.
India’s high-volume output of cheap generic medicines has earned it the title of ‘pharmacy of the developing world’. This has become a cornerstone of trading relations.
India has signed agreements in the past to supply generic medicines to Fiji, South Africa and Venezuela, among others. The ability to avail low-cost treatments also makes India a hotspot of medical tourism, numbers of which are predicted to double by 2021. Since Modi’s talks with Duterte, similar collaborations have been announced with Italy and Cuba.
Modi welcomed the discussion, calling it ‘productive’ in a Tweet. He closed the meeting by inviting Duterte to visit India in January 2018 – an invitation the President is said to have tentatively accepted,saying ‘God willing, I will be there.’