Public-private partnerships: Developing a framework for collaboration

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Keynote Message By Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr., Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health

I congratulate the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) for coming up with a very significant publication, The Power of Innovation: A Report on the Contributions of the Philippine Pharmaceutical Industry.

I consider this endeavor a milestone in pursuing public-private partnership that will certainly serve as an excellent material or reference in addressing specific policy reforms that will ultimately be down to the strengthening of the Philippine healthcare system. 

Without a doubt, the crucial role of the pharmaceutical industry in developing and providing safe and effective medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and treatment is indispensable. We have witnessed this through the years, especially during the most critical period when the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the country with untold suffering insofar as the health of the people and its impact on the economy were concerned.

I commend the pharmaceutical industry, which are also members of PHAP, for taking the lead in the development of life-saving vaccines during the pandemic and for making this accessible to the Filipino people in collaboration with the Philippine government and international organizations like the World Health Organization. 

On July 21, 2023, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.—through Proclamation No. 297—lifted the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19. With this development, it is imperative to forge greater cooperation by strengthening our capability to respond to public health emergencies, even as we beef up our entire healthcare system. 

During a Nov. 15, 2023 meeting of the House Committee on Health, the importance of strengthening public-private partnership was highlighted as a critical component of the pandemic preparedness and response plan toward a better normal. This was presented by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

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As Chair of the Committee on Health, I wish to reiterate our desire to seek the support of the PHAP in establishing communication channels with pharmaceutical companies—well in advance of emergencies. 

A framework for collaboration that outlines roles, responsibilities, and expectations must be developed. Among other critical legislative actions, the following must be taken into consideration: 

Public-private partnerships to combine resources, expertise, and infrastructure. A conducive environment for collaboration through joint initiatives, research consortium and shared funding mechanism must be created;  

Sharing of data and information between government agencies, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. On this, transparency is crucial to build trust and facilitate more rapid decision making;

Streamlining of the approval processes by regulatory agencies during emergencies without compromising safety. Clear guidelines for emergency use authorizations and expedited reviews must be established;

Creation of resilient and diverse supply chains for medical products. Measures must be in place to address supply chain challenges, including the availability of raw materials, logistical issues, and transportation constraints; 

Provision of financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development for emergency related products. Tax credits, grants or other mechanisms may be considered to stimulate innovation;

Technology transfer from research institution to pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Investments in building local and global manufacturing capacities to ensure rapid and widespread distribution;

And lastly, international collaborations to leverage global expertise and resources. 

The House of Representative has already passed on third reading some measures that promote public-private partnerships. These include: House Bill No. 6452, which provides for the establishment of Virology and Vaccine Institute; and House Bill No. 6522, which seeks to establish Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. 

These bills were already transmitted to the Senate for action in December 2022. The House Committee on Health is currently working on other important related measures which we hope to report on not later than March 2024. These are bills providing for stockpiling of critical drugs and medicines and mandatory immunization. 

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Nevertheless, with the support of the pharmaceutical industry, I am hopeful that we can work together to achieve a more accessible and affordable pharmaceutical landscape that will ensure timely access to innovative treatment and healthcare for the Filipino people while promoting a competitive and sustainable healthcare system. 

Article Two, Section 20 of the Philippine Constitution clearly states that the state recognizes the indispensable role of the private sector; encourages private enterprise, and provides incentives to needed investments. 

In keeping with state policy and realizing that health security is essential to national security and economic development, this representation—on behalf of the House Committee on Health and the House of Representatives, is committed to innovation in collaboration with the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. 

Congratulations again to PHAP for coming up with a very significant publication and thank you for this opportunity to address your prestigious organization on this momentous event. Maraming, maraming salamat po.



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