FDA pushed to hasten permits for local vaccine makers

THE Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) will meet with the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other government agencies, to speed up the processing of permits for local vaccine manufacturers. ARTA Director General Jeremiah B. Belgica, in a press release on Monday, said the Health and Trade departments as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission will also be asked to help streamline government procedures. “(Ito ay) para ho makita natin on how could we attract itong mga local manufacturers na magkaroon po ng kanilang sariling manufacturing plant for vaccines (This is to see how we could attract local manufacturers to set up their own plants for vaccines),” Mr. Belgica said. President Rodrigo R. Duterte supported faster permit processing after Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez last week said the firms eyeing domestic vaccine manufacturing will need quick processing and government procurement priority. Mr. Lopez named four firms that are considering local vaccine manufacturing, including United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab), which has confirmed it would work on manufacturing a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine locally. The fill-and-finish plant, in which active ingredients are imported for local packaging, could start operations by 2023. Science and Technology Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara has said some of the companies are planning to start manufacturing vaccines that are already “well established” such as those that help prevent measles and rubella, before making COVID-19 vaccines when clinical trials are done. Mr. Belgica said in Filipino that ARTA will continuously focus on the FDA and other agencies involved in the processing of permits for these manufacturers of vaccines and other essential medicines. — Jenina P. Ibañez