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CPHI South East Asia 2024 in Bangkok: A Turning Point for Thailand’s Pharmaceutical Industry

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In the vibrant heart of Bangkok, an announcement has sparked waves of conversation and anticipation: the “CPHI South East Asia 2024”, an event par excellence that is set to redefine the pharmaceutical landscape of the ASEAN region, will take center stage at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from July 10 to 12. Beyond its commercial sheen, this congregation is more than an event; it’s a testament to Thailand’s burgeoning prowess in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, positioning the nation as a beacon of medical innovation in Asia.

However, beneath the surface of this gleaming prospect lie formidable challenges, as voiced by industry stalwarts from Greater Pharma and T.MAN Pharmaceutical. One of the most pressing issues? The quest to bolster a robust domestic medicine manufacturing underpinning, a foundation that Thailand finds itself grappling to solidify. With drug imports swallowing a hefty 65% share of Thailand’s pharmaceutical market pie, and a mere 35% accounted for by domestic production, the numbers paint a picture of reliance that the country is eager to change.

The narrative deepens as we delve into the nature of these domestically produced pharmaceuticals. The stage is largely dominated by ready-made drugs, derivative of downstream manufacturing processes that lack the sparkle of innovation. The realm of generic drugs, those faithful renditions of original formulations whose patents have danced into the sunset, also play their part. The chorus is rounded out with prototype drugs imported in their infancy from overseas. What’s notably absent is the allure of upstream production—Thailand’s contribution to the novelties of newly discovered medications, or the crafting of intermediate drugs and raw materials, remains a rare gem.

At the heart of this conundrum, Prapol Thanachotipan, the visionary CEO of T.MAN Pharmaceutical, voices a critical insight: “Innovation is the missing pillar in our quest for medical hub status.” He champions the cause of research and development, not just as a mere function, but as the lifeblood of T.MAN’s aspirations for perpetual growth. The call to arms extends to upgrading operational capabilities to international standards and securing European certification, steps that promise to unlock new horizons.

Amidst this discourse on technology and innovation, Thailand harbors a treasure trove just waiting to be unlocked: its rich heritage of herbal and traditional medicine. “We possess an unparalleled core strength in our herbal riches,” Prapol elucidates, drawing attention to the untapped potential that, with a dose of R&D and innovation, could catapult Thai herbal medicine onto the global stage of premium pharmaceuticals. A shining beacon of this potential is T.Man’s Propoliz Spray, a sore-throat relief marvel that has not only charmed local markets but has also cast its therapeutic spell across international borders.

This is a narrative of transformation, where traditional Thai herbal extracts are envisaged not just as botanical wonders but as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) that promise healing and health. Yet, despite this potential, Thailand’s medicine market, with a valuation of 225 billion baht, remains heavily under the influence of imported drugs, a reality that puts the dream of drug security at risk.

As the dialogue unfolds, Chernporn Tengamnuay, Greater Pharma’s managing director, sheds light on the crux of the challenge: extracting API is an uphill battle marred by economic and technical steeples. He cautions against underestimating the prowess of global leaders like China and India in the API saga, where their domestic demand for APIs ensures their operational viability even in the face of fluctuating international demand.

Yet, hope is far from lost. Both Chernporn and Prapol concur on a strategic pivot: harnessing the power of Thai herbs to carve out a niche in the global pharmaceutical theater. From Greater Pharma’s innovative strides with mangosteen peel extract to pioneering projects like the Pharmaceutical Stem Cell Bank and the dust mite allergy vaccine, the journey toward innovation and sustainability is marked by collaboration, ambition, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

The roadway to establishing Thailand as a global pharmaceutical hub is dotted with challenges, but it’s also paved with opportunity. With industry and government working in concert, backed by a commitment to R&D, technological advancement, and sustainability, the vision of Thailand’s ascent to pharmaceutical prominence on the world stage is not just a dream—it’s a compelling future that’s just within reach.


  1. PharmaFan45 March 25, 2024

    Extremely excited about Thailand’s push towards becoming a pharmaceutical hub! It’s high time that Southeast Asia got recognition for its potential in the global market.

    • Skeptic101 March 25, 2024

      Excitement is one thing, but we must be realistic. Domestically, Thailand lacks the infrastructure and innovation ecosystem to truly compete with giants like India and China.

      • InnovatorJay March 25, 2024

        While it’s true that there are current limitations, every giant starts somewhere. Investment in R&D and international standards could really turn the tide for Thailand.

    • John March 25, 2024

      How do you see this impacting the local economy, specifically in terms of jobs?

      • PharmaFan45 March 25, 2024

        The growth of the pharmaceutical sector could be a huge job creator, particularly in R&D and manufacturing. Plus, it could inspire more students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

  2. HerbLover March 25, 2024

    Thailand’s wealth in herbal medicines is a goldmine waiting to be tapped into. With proper research, this could be what sets the Thai pharmaceutical industry apart globally.

    • TraditionVsScience March 25, 2024

      I’m all for traditional medicine, but let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. We need a balance between modern pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies.

  3. GlobalWatcher March 25, 2024

    While Thailand’s aspirations are admirable, let’s not ignore the environmental and ethical considerations. Ramping up production should not come at the cost of sustainability or local communities.

    • EcoWarrior March 25, 2024

      Exactly! We must ensure that this push towards pharmaceutical innovation doesn’t neglect the environmental impact. Sustainable and ethical practices are crucial.

  4. Economist_Thinker March 25, 2024

    The big question is, can Thailand create a sustainable model that combines its strengths in herbal medicine with the required investment in technology and research to compete globally?

    • TechAdvocate March 25, 2024

      It’s all about strategic partnerships and investing wisely in research. Thailand needs to leverage its unique position to create a niche market that can compete on the world stage.

  5. API_Guru March 25, 2024

    The dependence on imported drugs and the low share of domestic production is concerning. Thailand needs to address this issue head-on if it wants to secure its pharmaceutical future.

    • Realist_Ray March 25, 2024

      This is a complex issue that goes beyond just wanting to be self-sufficient. It involves international trade policies, research capabilities, and much more.

  6. FuturePharmacist March 25, 2024

    As a pharmacy student, this news is incredibly heartening. It’s inspiring to see opportunities in R&D grow in Thailand, potentially allowing us to contribute on a global scale.

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