The Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), a government corporation engaged in the parallel importation of off-patent medicine for sale and distribution in the Philippines, signed an agreement with State Trading Corp. (STC) of India Ltd. on trade cooperation and drug sourcing.

The Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s three-day state visit to Mumbai and New Delhi yielded nine bilateral agreements and at least US$ 2 billion in investments in the Philippines by Indian businessmen. India-Philippines Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Medicine was signed by the Secretary, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Naresh Dayal and Berner.

Memorandum of Agreement in the Field of Health and Medicine:  Agreement between the Philippine Trading Corp. and the Indian State Trading Corp. for the purchase of US$ 35 million worth of quality but affordable medicines from India.

The State Trading Corp. (STC) of India Ltd would coordinate with Indian bulk drug manufacturers for the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients to Philippine manufacturers of generic products. The importation of low-cost raw materials from India would effectively bring down the cost of generic drugs manufactured in the Philippines.  By sourcing commonly-used medicine from countries such as India, where the prices of medicine are very low, local pharmacies would also be able to offer branded medicine at lower prices.  With these agreements, the PITC is close to achieving the target set by the President to cut down the prices of medicine by half.

President Arroyo asked Indian pharmaceutical firms to choose the Philippines as their main base of operations in Southeast Asia. The country is strategically located and therefore could be a base of export operations to Northeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  The President further encouraged Indian pharmaceutical companies to set up production facilities in the country, by citing that the Senate has approved on second reading the Quality and Affordable Medicines Act, which allows the parallel importation of low-priced drugs, and established a legal framework to allow the production of cheaper drugs in the country.

The President will certify Senate Bill 1658, known as 'The Quality Affordable Medicines Act' sponsored by Senator Roxas II, for it is a major milestone in the administration's efforts to promote better health and longer productive lives for the people.