July 17, 2014 00:00 By VEENA THOOPKRAJAE THE NATION
MYANMAR'S pharmaceutical industry is expected to rev up 10-15 per cent a year thanks to the government's increasing spending on healthcare.
The Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association made the forecast at the recent “Myanmar Medi-Pharm Expo”, signalling confidence in the future of the nascent market now estimated to be worth about US$100 million to $120 million (Bt3.2 billion to Bt3.85 billion).
During the past three years, the Myanmar government has tripled healthcare expenditures. Spending by consumers will also rise in line with the country’s growing economy.
The pharma industry was starved during the country’s long closure under a military regime, but newly liberalised economic policies have provided room for foreign investors as well as local companies to build their business.
The industry relies heavily on foreign medicine, with more than 90 per cent imported. Indian suppliers enjoy the largest share at 35.4 per cent, followed by Thailand, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea and Indonesia.
About 60 per cent of all products are sold in Yangon and Mandalay.
There are only 10 domestic manufacturers. The government allowed local companies to apply for production licences in January 2012.
Although the industry is still in its infancy, there are signs that international companies are keen to enter the market.
The seminar provided an overview of the industry and explained how to register medicines in Myanmar.
The exhibition was the second of its kind organised by Minh Vi Exhibition and Advertisement Services. Exhibitors came from 14 economies, including India, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand, to the event, which they saw as a platform to enter the emerging market. Local companies saw it as an opportunity to find partners.
“We are satisfied with the result of this year’s exhibition as we recorded 927 visitors on the first day alone. Last year, we only had that many for the entire event,” Nguyen Ba Vinh, director-general of the organiser, said yesterday.
Most exhibitors wanted to test the waters rather than to strike deals.
Natchakot Sukamongkol, product and export manager for Asia Chemie (Thailand) Co, said he joined the event for the first time just to observe the market.
Thai 3B Scientific Co, a distributor of scientific models and simulators from Germany, looked to explore opportunities to market products aimed at educational purposes in Myanmar.
“If we get customers here, the products may be sent directly from our parent firm,” a representative said.
Wanasak Wingsuwan, sales engineer of Official Equipment Manufacturing Co, said: “At present, there is limited spending from private investors, so we mainly receive business from international organisations or investors that have already started projects here.”