Southeast Asia: Kalbe Underwhelms in Indonesia; Novavax Looks to Filipino Vaccine Manufacturing; Thai Cannabis Market Boom


The latest from the pharma industry in Southeast Asia, including underwhelming results from Kalbe Pharma, Indonesia’s largest pharma company; Novavax’s vaccine manufacturing plans in the Philippines; the promising future of cannabis in Thailand; and the first Vietnamese coronavirus vaccine candidate’s Phase III trials.


Indonesia’s Kalbe Farma sales underwhelm investors

Kalbe Farma, a leading Indonesian pharmaceutical group, has reported net sales of 6.015 trillion rupiah (US 421 million) in the first quarter of 2021, marking a year-on-year increase of 3.8% and failing to impress investors. The group expressed optimism and projected an annual increase of 5% to 6% in both sales and net profit, resting its hopes, in large part, on business related to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Workers at Indonesian pharma firm arrested over ‘reused’ Covid swabs

Staff at an Indonesian pharmaceutical company have been accused of washing and repackaging used Covid nasal swabs, which were then sold to thousands of unsuspecting travellers.

Five employees from the state-owned Kimia Farma have been arrested, while the company may also face a civil lawsuit over the claims.


Cannabis could generate US 256 million for Thai pharmaceutical industry by 2025, expert says

Cannabis-based medicinal products could generate up to 8 billion baht (US 256 million) for the Thai pharmaceutical industry by 2025. Medical cannabis has been legal in Thailand for the past couple years, but recently the government agreed to allow parts of the plant with very, low traces of the “high-inducing” component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to be in medicinal products and food.


Thailand’s Siam Bioscience declares AstraZeneca vaccine ready to deliver

The company announced that they are ready to begin deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Thai government. The company was scheduled to provide over 60 million vaccines over the course of the year. The welcomed announcement came amidst frequent reporting of problems and delays in the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand.


Novavax interested to set up vaccine manufacturing plant in Philippines

US-based company Novavax Inc. is interested in putting up a manufacturing plant in the Philippines to develop vaccines against COVID-19, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said Sunday.


Philippines citizens rejecting Chinese COVID-19 vaccines due to delays, erratic supplies

Owing to repeated delays, disorganisation and erratic supplies, many citizens of the Philippines are rejecting COVID-19 vaccines from China.

South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that vaccination centres offering shots made by the Chinese company Sinovac have reported few takers and people not showing up for appointment, resulting in a surplus of vaccines at the end of each day. “I think it’s the track record of [American drug companies] for producing quality medicines proven for efficacy and safety. Their product is a result of excellent research and development,” said Dr Anthony Leachon, a former senior adviser to the country’s COVID-19 task force.


Vietnamese COVID vaccine goes to final trial, as Hanoi lags on shots

Vietnam’s first coronavirus vaccine candidate is headed for a final-stage trial, giving a country that has accepted no Chinese-made shots a chance to gain ground on Southeast Asian peers in inoculating its people.

Nanocovax, a recombinant protein vaccine made using animal cells, was developed by a startup called Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University. The first-phase trial began in December, followed by the start of the second phase in late February.

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