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MSD vows to make medicines available in PH

Multinational drug company MSD has committed to continue expanding its presence in the Philippines and to make its life-saving medicines available to Filipinos.

 “MSD is committed to continue inventing for life for Filipino patients stressing they have the opportunity to make a difference here, as healthcare challenges abound in the areas of oncology, vaccine preventable-diseases such as HPV, pneumonia, anti-microbial resistance, and cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes,” said Dr. Beaver Tamesis, president and managing director of MSD Philippines, on the occasion of the company’s 25th anniversary in the country.

Throughout the company’s 125 years of global operations, and 25 years here in the Philippines, Tamesis said MSD has pushed the boundaries of science with the hope and expectation that advancing scientific knowledge will lead to major advances in health– from the development of the first vaccines for measles and mumps and the first vaccine for HPV that causes cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases, to the development of ground-breaking medicines for heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV and melanoma, just to name a few.         

 “MSD aims to achieve the broadest possible access to our vaccines and medicines within a sustainable framework—one that allows ongoing research, development, and distribution of these to address important unmet health needs,” said Tamesis.

Tamesis said MSD continued to explore multiple pathways to advance understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and develop vaccines and treatments, including an expansive internal research program citing its two COVID-19 vaccine development efforts – a collaboration with IAVI and plans to acquire Themis.

“We have also announced a collaboration with Ridgeback Bio to develop a novel antiviral candidate. We believe a range of medicines and vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, and we will continue to pursue multiple pathways and collaborate with others,” Tamesis said.

Tamesis also acknowledged the Philippine market’s contribution to the overall successful of MSD in the Philippines.

“MSD Philippines is growing strong across all its focus therapeutic areas,” he said.

While Tamesis cannot share country figures, he said that its  growth is consistent to that of MSD globally, and growing faster in certain areas. He shared that MSD global first quarter 202 sales were $12.1 billion, an increase of 11 percent.

Excluding the impact from foreign exchange, sales grew 13 percent.

Sales of its oncology medicines grew 45 percent to $3.3 billion while human health vaccines sales were up 14 percent to $2.2 billion.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the company lowers 2020 full-year revenue range to be between $46.1 billion and $48.1 billion, including a negative impact from foreign exchange of approximately 2.5 percent.

Over the past 25 years, Tamesis said MSD has engaged stakeholders from a variety of sectors – patient advocacy groups, communities, medical societies, and government, either to lead or support programs that promote better healthcare for Filipinos.

MSD also leads the Hope from Within (HFW), a multi-stakeholder cancer advocacy aims to raise awareness and strengthen the fight against the disease through education about early testing and new treatments such as Immunotherapy. HFW also actively partners and supports patient groups that advocated for the enactment of Republic Act 11215- the National Integrated Cancer Control Act.

With the implementation of Executive Order 104 or the Maximum Drug Retail Prices, Tamesis, MSD was one with the pharmaceutical industry in urging the government to revisit the price caps on medicine, given the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.

 “The implementation of price cuts comes at a critical period wherein companies and the country must start economic recovery,” said Tamesis as he cited challenges in logistics, global competition for supplies, and stockpiling have led to unforeseen and unplanned expenses impacting operations.

From keeping plants, warehouses, and retail stores open to chartering flights, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry has taken and absorbed significant increase in expenses to the fullest extent possible, with deliberate and conscious effort to prevent prices from surging.

Instead of price control on life-saving drugs, the industry has urged the government to direct its efforts toward the full implementation of other programs that promote access to quality healthcare including the Universal Health Care Act, NICCA, and the Malasakit Centers.

Tamesis, who is also president of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), has reiterated his call for closer collaboration with government and research-based pharmaceutical companies in planning for and securing sustainable strategies for future public health emergencies, beyond this pandemic.

 “We ask that we make it more enticing for innovators to actually be present in the Philippines through a more predictable and supportive business and policy environment,” he said.

As an industry that is in the forefront of developing medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tests for COVID-19, PHAP hopes that the government can continue to establish an environment conducive to innovation.

 “With the government’s help, we can ensure that research-based pharmaceutical companies can continue to be present in the Philippines, and re-invest into research and development to contain COVID-19, and fight any future pandemics,” said Tamesis.

MSD has been actively supporting LGUs in helping build vaccine-resilient communities. It supports government’s “Bakunado si Lolo at Lola, Iwas Pulmonya.”

 “Every day, our medicines and vaccines touch lives. It is our privilege to work tirelessly with advocacy groups to identify the most critical needs of our patients and caregivers – and to ensure that we are responsive to these. Among the developments that have reached Filipino patients over the last 25 years are vaccines for measles and mumps and the first vaccine for HPV that causes cervical and other cancers, to the development of ground-breaking medicines for heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, tuberculosis, HIV and melanoma, just to name a few.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the scientific and global health challenge of our generation and demands collaboration from across the scientific community. As one of the very few companies that has continued to invest in both vaccines and anti-infective medicines, Tamesis said, “We know we have a special responsibility to help advance vaccine and antiviral efforts as part of our overall COVID-19 response.”

“We believe a range of medicines and vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, and we will continue to pursue multiple pathways and collaborate with others,” Tamesis concluded.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/07/msd-vows-to-make-medicines-available-in-ph/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=msd-vows-to-make-medicines-available-in-ph)

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