TARLAC  CITY, September 28
, 2004  (STAR) By Benjie Villa - A biotech park that will produce low-cost medicines will soon rise inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), the government agency overseeing investment and other economic activities in Central Luzon said.

According to the Presidential Commission for the Central Luzon Growth Corridor (PCCLGC), this was the commitment sealed by officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) with senior executives and officers of the Generics Association of the Philippines, a group composed of the different pharmaceutical firms in the country.

The commission also disclosed that the SBMA is now venturing into putting up a science park inside the Subic ecozone "that will be the future location of pharmaceutical companies and laboratories that are into research and development activities."

The PCCLGC explained that the ecozone is "an excellent site" for the planned biotech and science parks "since there are available skilled and easily trained workers."

It added that raw materials "can be imported duty-free" into the Subic ecozone, while finished products "can be exported conveniently" because of the presence of major carriers such as the Federal Express Corp. (FedEx).

FedEx, the world’s largest cargo and package delivery firm, maintains its Asia-Pacific operations hub inside the Subic ecozone. Opened in 1995, it has reserved 16 hectares of land inside the aviation complex of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) in Pampanga for the expansion of its business ventures in the country.

Quoting SBMA Chairman Felicito Payumo, the PCCLGC said that the planned biotech and science parks inside Subic will likely help bring down the prices of medicines in the country.

Generics Group president, Edwin Santiago, said that the pharmaceutical business in the country earns as much as P82 billion annually, but medicines remain "a little too expensive for Filipino consumers."

The PCCLGC believes that once the biotech and science parks are built inside the ecozone, "major pharmaceutical groups will be attracted to relocate their operations to Subic."

According to the PCCLGC, about 1,200 pharmaceutical groups operating in the country could be easily attracted to relocate to the ecozone "because of the advantages that Subic has to offer."

Payumo revealed that one of these firms, the Macro Asia-Pharma Inc., has already started construction work for its plant at the Subic ecozone’s Techno Park.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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