Philippines - Commercial Guide
Healthcare

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-07-22

Overview

The healthcare market in the Philippines has opportunities in both the medical device and pharmaceutical sectors. Major diseases include respiratory infections, diabetes, hypertension, TB, and other heart related problems. The nation also struggles with both obesity and malnutrition at the same time. There are few local manufacturers for both devices and pharmaceuticals, making the nation extremely import dependant. For high value products , the nation has no choice but to procure from foreign sources, and U.S. products continue to be popular. 

The national government procures vaccines and devices for its programs and hospital networks and U.S. firms have often been successful in such tenders. Private hospitals, where the wealthy seek the latest innovative treatments, tend to be where U.S. firms target their business. Patients at such hospitals are willing to pay out of pocket and do not need to have treatments covered by Universal Healthcare. 

Medical Devices: The Philippine medical device market is almost totally dependent on imports and continues to present opportunities for U.S. manufacturers and distributors of high-value, low-volume products. Such products include electro-medical devices, imaging equipment, radiation equipment, dialysis devices, and linear accelerators. These are the areas where U.S. technologies tend to be competitive. Almost 100% of medical equipment and approximately 50% of medical disposables are imported. Local production is limited to accessories, spare parts (including customized parts), and disposables such as surgical gloves, syringes, and needles. 

Pharmaceuticals: The Philippines is the third-largest pharmaceutical market in ASEAN, after Indonesia and Thailand. Over 14 of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies have manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. The pharmaceutical industry in the Philippines has experienced stable growth for the past decade, and this trend is expected to continue as greater consumption power allows for more purchases (both from the lower and higher ends of the spectrum), and as the Universal Healthcare System is implemented. Industry studies estimate that the sector could reach $8 billion in value in 2020. 

Due to the pandemic, the Department of Health has delayed many intended procurements and is facing budget challenges. Ongoing policy changes including a new Health Technology Assessment Policy and a new Maximum Drug Retail Pricing Policy continue to present challenges for firms. 

Market Opportunities: 

Medical Devices - There are two distinct buyers for medical devices in the Philippines. The first would be the Department of Health, which purchases equipment for its hospitals and centers through government tenders. Philippine procurement law favors the “lowest cost compliant bid,” making it difficult for U.S. firms to win unless they are the only entity capable of providing the product/technology. Government tenders, while high valued, also tend to be very time consuming and bureaucratic, with payment terms that are often undesirable from the private sector. That being said, large-scale procurements present sizable opportunities worth consideration. The Department of Health also is not allowed to procure used equipment, so all purchases will be for new equipment. 

On the private sector side, hospitals are upgrading facilities and equipment, and can be expected to make purchases through their own procurement processes. Hospitals have the ability to determine what equipment they specifically want, and can opt for the latest products and technologies that the Government may not be able to afford for Government hospitals. 

Pharmaceuticals - Private entities, including hospitals, corporations, and retail outlets, will purchase products through their own procurement processes. Based on their end consumers, they will select different types of products in different price ranges. Mercury Drug, a local retail outlet, has a lower price range than Watsons, which tends to be more expensive. Consumers seeking care in private hospitals pay a premium for faster service, and innovative treatments. 

Resources

Department of Health:  www.doh.gov.ph
Food and Drug Administration:  www.fda.gov.ph
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation:  www.philhealth.gov.ph
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines:  www.phap.org.ph
Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association:  www.ppma.ph