Indonesia's Kalbe Farma is making this year an expansion year as it moves beyond its shores and into Singapore and Thailand and their over-the-counter drug markets as a regional trade pact looks set to start at the end of the year. It also has corporate eyes set on even more countries, with a focus on West Africa.
Once again, more than half of the countries on the U.S. Trade Representative's Priority Watch List for insufficient intellectual-property protection are in Asia. Four other Asia countries also were named to the Watch List as being of lesser concern.
Vietnam has become the 39th nation cleared for global exports of the vaccines it makes, joining an increasingly crowded field of local champions to multinational heavyweights. The World Health Organization gave that clearance recently for a country that expects to be a leading producer within the next 20 to 30 years.
Some Western drugmakers have built plants in Indonesia to tap a market with a growing population and expanding national health coverage. But a new report suggests that the better entré for local production might be to buy a facility from a domestic producer.
Indonesia drugmakers expect to emerge from a long period of a depressed currency to almost double industry sales this year, according to one of the pharma leaders.
Indonesia's new and ambitious healthcare program has done little to infuse new money into the country's pharmaceutical industry, partly because of a long-term weakness in the nation's currency, the rupiah, according a review of company reports.
Indonesia could be the new darling of healthcare industry investors, many of whom are already taking advantage of opportunities afforded by a new national health plan initiated at the beginning of last year.
Indonesia has long been active in providing vaccines to other developing countries, but now finds itself in a bind and turning to its state-owned and century-old pharmaceutical company, Bio Farma, to solve the nation's own growing need for vaccines.
Kalbe Farma said it has ordered a recall two of its drugs in Indonesia, an anesthetic and cardiovascular treatment, but did not identify the problem other than to say it was a quality control procedure.
Indonesia is one of those emerging markets that has pressured outside companies to produce locally and companies like Pfizer, Merck and Fresenius Kabi have all built or expanded plants there in recent years. But the government, which controls some of the players, is taking steps to improve efficiency in the domestic market, pushing for a merger that ties the manufacturing expertise of one company to the supply chain strength of another.