The Philippines is an untapped market with a solid population base, but a fair share of shortcomings. Its problems include poor IP security, lagging R&D activity and a rampant counterfeit drug market that makes up 30% of the country's pharmaceutical share.
Despite the issues at hand, more than 400 mid- and late-stage trials are now in progress in the Philippines. Some key advantages can outweigh those shortfalls.
For instance, as Covance points out, the Philippines does have a relatively straightforward regulatory process. Plus, the majority of Filipino researchers are U.S. or EU-trained, Icon says. And given that English is one of country's official languages and the primary language for medical record-keeping, nothing gets lost in translation.
The Philippines is also prime territory for testing vaccines and drugs to treat tropical diseases. And the unfortunate growth of "lifestyle" diseases offers researchers large groups of potential trial participants.
One-quarter of Filipinos suffer from hypertension and heart disease, and both are leading causes of death there. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is linked to smoking, is also increasingly common. Other health issues include cancer, diabetes and kidney disease--all important therapeutic areas for drug development.