International pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking to sell their products to Cambodia, although the market is full of obstacles, according to experts.
After several big international players announced sales expansion plans, two companies from Indonesia, a major manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, are planning to follow.
Kalbe Farma, Indonesia’s largest listed pharmaceutical company, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that it plans to add non-prescription cough and cold medicines to its product range in Cambodia this year. The company is seeking to double its export contribution to 8 per cent of total revenue within six years, Kalbe’s Finance Director Vidjongtius told the newspaper.
Last week, Indonesia’s state-owned pharmaceutical firm Indofarma said it is looking to expand its international network by exporting generic drugs to Cambodia within the next two years, according to the Jakarta Post.
The company is now in the process of acquiring legal permits from the Kingdom’s food and drugs agencies, the newspaper said. “Many pharmaceutical manufacturing hubs, especially for generic drugs, are based in Indonesia.
“Those products are already recognised on the Chinese and Japanese markets. However, producers from this growing sector are increasingly looking for new markets in other ASEAN countries,” Benoit Martineau, head of the pharma working group at the Eurocham and of Sanofi Group’s Cambodia and Laos Operations, told the Post on Wednesday.
Also, German-based manufacturer Bayer has a very big manufacturing hub for pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter products in Indonesia and is now increasing its sales to Cambodia, according to Celina Chew, Bayer’s country group head of the North ASEAN Region.
“The Cambodian pharmaceuticals market is currently growing by 15 per cent a year and we expect that it will continue to grow by 15 to 17 per cent in the next five years,” Khalid Baig, the company’s country group head, added.
“We’re definitely counting on China and India still, but you can see some of the businesses are moving to ASEAN markets, because they offer lower costs at the manufacturing base,” Chew told the Post.
Cambodia’s pharmaceutical market was worth $170 million in 2012, according to the second quarter 2013 pharmaceuticals and healthcare report from Business Monitor International.
However, the lack of official data and the absence of a clear distinction between prescription and non-prescription medicine make market segmentation calculations all but impossible, the report added.
“The fact that Cambodia’s neighbours Malaysia and Thailand have become established as more successful emerging markets over previous decades has stifled the development of foreign interest in Cambodia’s pharmaceutical market and industry.
“Other obstacles have included corruption, poor infrastructure and the lack of funding for healthcare and medicines,” the report said.
“However, Cambodia’s economic, political and demographic developments should combine to improve – to a degree – the operating environment for multinationals, none of which are present in the market through direct manufacturing facilities,” it added.
French pharma giant Sanofi and German-based Bayer told the Post earlier this year that they are planning to expand their sales to all Cambodian provinces.
According to Benoit Martineau, the Cambodian market is too open for medicine distributors, of which Cambodia has about 200. The Eurocham’s pharma working group is “trying to support the authorities to shape the market, to create more rules”, he added.