Health & Life Sciences Update: June 14, 2019

Health & Life Sciences Update | June 14, 2019
Authors: Shay Wester, Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham and Marisa Mahat
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • June 24-28, Penang (Malaysia): 27th Pharmaceutic Product Working Group (PPWG) Meeting
  • August 26-30, Cambodia: ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting
  • October 28 – November 1, Thailand: 28th Pharmaceutic Product Working Group (PPWG) Meeting
  • November/December 2019: Joint Meeting between ASEAN Senior Officials’ on Youth and Senior Officials’ Meeting on Health Development
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thai Government Increases Investment Incentives for Companies to relocate to the Biopolis
Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) has announced its intent to provide additional investment incentives for companies that choose to relocate their activities to the Biopolis, Thailand’s new biotech development hub situated in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECI). With the aim of becoming a regional bio hub in ASEAN, the Biopolis is a center for research and innovation in life sciences and biotechnology. The Thai government has been heavily promoting the Biopolis to attract high-tech investments to help spur additional development in this region.

In a recent BOI update, they announced the introduction of a corporate income tax exemption (CIT) of up to 8 years for medical companies specializing in R&D, scientific laboratories, production of automation machinery systems and high-valued software development. In addition, 5-year tax exemption for the assembling of robots or automation equipment and parts companies will be provided for eligible companies. The application submission is open through the 30th of December 2019, and approved companies must relocate to EEC by December 30th, 2023. In conjunction with these initiatives, the BOI hosted a seminar titled, “Thailand’s Life Sciences, Medical & Biotech Industries” at the Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, on June 3rd. This seminar looked at highlighting the opportunities available to North American medical companies that expand to Thailand.

Increased financial incentives by the Thai government is a positive step towards its development in the biomedical field. These incentives not only signal the Thai government’s openness towards international companies’ operations in the country but also provide a positive outlook for American companies that seek to further expand their operations in Thailand. Strong financial support and push by the government would also reduce barriers of entry for potential pharmaceutical companies to access the Thailand market. The Council supports these encouraging developments in the Thai medical sector and will continue to monitor for further advancements in this matter.

Permanent Representatives of Thailand and Georgia Circulates the Zero Draft of the Declaration on Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
The zero draft of a political declaration on universal health coverage is under consideration by UN Member of States. Circulated on May 17th, the declaration titled ‘Universal Health Coverage: Moving together to build a healthier world’ calls for 13 areas of action in healthcare. Main action areas include strengthening primary health care, providing quality and affordable access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and health technologies and promoting the use of technologies. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) will hold a high-level meeting on UHC on 23 September 2019, authorized to result in a political declaration.

Key commitments to be made by heads of state and government are:

  • Stop the rise of catastrophic out-of-pocket health spending by providing financial risk protection and reverse the trend by 2030;

  • Increasingly cover one billion additional people with quality essential health services and quality, essential, affordable and effective medicines, vaccines and technologies for all by 2023, and an additional two billion people by 2030; and;

  • Recognize the fundamental importance of equity, social cohesion and social protection mechanisms to ensure access to health without financial hardship for all people particularly for those who are vulnerable or marginalized.

The Declaration on UHC state leaders affirm their commitment towards boosting healthcare provision. This has desirable effects on major pharmaceutical companies as it promotes greater research and design efforts to innovate more effective medicine for the global market. The adoption of this declaration could also promote greater coherence, especially among ASEAN member states in the UN on healthcare goals. This would provide better clarity for pharmaceutical companies in providing services and products to the ASEAN market. The Council is looking forward to developments in this area.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Philippines’ plans to expand the Maximum Drug Retail Pricing (MDRP)
The Council will be submitting a letter to the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) regarding the government’s intention of broadening price regulation to cover 1,154-2,394 (26-54%) out of the 4,473 drug preparations available in the Philippine market in June 2019. The DOH also seeks to amend the Cheaper Medicines Act (CMA) to make price regulation the central tool to lower prices of medicines instead of market competition and dynamics. The letter highlighted three key concerns of the MDRP: (1) greater market uncertainty; (2) disincentivizes innovation; (2) spill impact to other countries due to price referencing. The Council made three key recommendations: (1) re-evaluation of the MDRP framework; (2) recalibration of focus between reducing prices and fostering a secure business environment; and (3) need for long-term, sustainable policies.

The Council would greatly appreciate if members can review the above and the draft letter here to DOH and provide further inputs by next Tuesday, June 18. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Cambodia
Promoting eco-awareness amid rapid urban growth

Indonesia
Singapore and Indonesia sign agreement to collaborate on health promotion
Indonesia to augment sales of medicines, medical devices in Africa
Child Protection Law revision needed to curb young smokers: Ministry
Indonesia, Netherlands discuss cooperation in health sector
New government urged to control tobacco sales

Laos
Reproductive Health, Rights And Choices For All
Hundreds Of Monks Given Health Checkups
Accelerating Healthy Agriculture Project Launched To Improve Nutrition
Social Protection, Water, Sanitation Projects To Improve Nutrition In Lao PDR

Malaysia
Malaysia delivers quality care to Vietnamese healthcare travellers
Plan for special council to propel health tourism in Sabah
Duopharma optimistic of resilient sales amid challenging times
IHH to refinance up to US$250m of non-lira debt
IHH Healthcare's CEO to step down, Columbia Asia boss set to take ove
Malaysia base metals firms plan new group in drive to quell scrap...
KL drafting stiffer penalties for pollution offences
Govt tackling nurse shortage

Philippines
Health care spending seen lagging economic growth
Higher alcohol, tobacco taxes to fund Universal Health Care programs in the Philippines
Duque: More time needed for implementing rules on Universal Health Care 
House to back Senate sin tax bill
Court junks Sanofi, Zuellig bid to dismiss Dengvaxia raps

Singapore
Singapore approves drug to treat late-stage breast cancer in patients with inherited genetic mutation

Thailand
Draft Political Declaration Outlines Leaders' Commitments on UHC
Kingdom of Thailand Transforms into the "Bio-Hub" of ASEAN
Private hospitals ordered to display medicine prices
Extra doses of MMR vaccine approved to help eliminate measles in Thailand
Cabinet approves seven conditions for regulation of marijuana
BMA declares six no-smoking zones
Smoking rate on the rise despite govt efforts
Rotavirus shots by next year, govt says
Pot prescriptions possible by end of June
Tens of thousands apply for pot amnesty
Commerce Ministry warns on prices

Vietnam
Commitment to better healthcare
AstraZeneca scales up investment in Vietnam
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Cambodia

Promoting eco-awareness amid rapid urban growth The Myanmar Times 28th May 2019
Cities where people migrate to work and live are getting overcrowded. By 2030, the urban population in the region is projected to increase from about 270 million to 373 million people. The fast and furious rate of growth is wreaking havoc on local environments. A large portion of city infrastructure systems, such as transportation, government buildings and manufacturing zones, are planned and built in inappropriate locations. Examples are not hard to find in Thailand. For instance, rice plains in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital city of Thailand, have been designated as industrial estates, leading the area to become more prone to flooding.

Indonesia

Singapore and Indonesia sign agreement to collaborate on health promotion The Straits Times 22nd May 2019
Singapore and Indonesia will collaborate to prevent and control diseases, promote healthy living and develop human resources under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong and his Indonesian counterpart Dr Nila Djuwita Farid Moeloek signed the MOU on health cooperation at a bilateral meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday (May 22). The Ministry of Health said the two ministers were there for the 72nd World Health Assembly where they affirmed the excellent health relations between Singapore and Indonesia, and agreed on the importance of regional cooperation and coordination in dealing with communicable diseases.

Indonesia to augment sales of medicines, medical devices in Africa Antara News 31st May 2019
Indonesia has constantly driven the sales of medicines and medical devices in Africa's market and deepened penetration of pharmaceutical products in African nations, noted a written statement by Indonesia's Embassy in Pretoria, received here, Friday. "The African people's requirements of medical devices and medicines are high, but their access is yet limited. This offers a great opportunity for our medical products to continue to make inroads into the African market," Indonesian Ambassador to South Africa Salman Al-Farisi remarked.

Child Protection Law revision needed to curb young smokers: Ministry The Jakarta Post 21st May 2019
The Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry is looking into proposing a revision in the Child Protection Law to include smoking prevention as the number of young Indonesian smokers is at a record high. The 2018 Basic Health Survey (Riskesdas) shows that the prevalence of smokers aged 10 to 18 years in the country has increased from 7.2 percent in 2013 to 9.1 percent in 2018.

Indonesia, Netherlands discuss cooperation in health sector Antara News 21st May 2019
Indonesia and the Netherlands have discussed cooperation in the health sector, particularly in family medicine, antimicrobial resistance and the health of the elderly. While attending the 72nd World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva on Monday, Indonesian Health Minister Nila Moeloek met with Dutch Minister of Health Services Bruno Johannes Bruins to discuss national health programs.

New government urged to control tobacco sales Antara News 16th May 2019
Nineteen civil society organizations, led by the National Tobacco Control Committee, urged the next elected government, following the 2019 General Election, to be more assertive in controlling tobacco sales, in a bid to protect Indonesian citizens from the adverse effects of tobacco. "The next elected government from the 2019 General Election needs to raise cigarette excise taxes to the highest possible extent and revise the Constitution No. 39 of 2007 concerning Excise taxes to increase the minimum excise tax limit to 70 percent...", stated a joint community organization press release received in Jakarta on Thursday.

Laos

Reproductive Health, Rights And Choices For All KPL - Lao News Agency 10th Jun 2019
Mobile outreach and activities promoting sexual reproductive health aim to reach more garment factories in Vientiane Capital. Vientiane Youth Clinic (VYC) working with Lao Women’s Union (LWU) organized a consultation meeting with factory owners and managers in Vientiane Capital on Jun 7 to discuss expansion of ongoing efforts and enhance engagement of the private sector to make available sexual reproductive health information and service to their workforce. The interactive meeting was led by LWU and UNFPA as the main supporters and attended by owners, managers and workers from 20 factories in Vientiane Capital , as well as representatives of other UN agencies and civil society organizations in Laos.

Hundreds Of Monks Given Health Checkups KPL - Lao News Agency 10th Jun 2019
The Thai Embassy in Vientiane in cooperation with the SCG and Thai entrepreneurs in Laos organized a health and dental check up event for hundreds of monks and novices in celebrating the recent royal coronation of King Rama X of Thailand and Thai Queen's birthday. The event was held at Wat Ong Tu temple in Vientiane Capital on Jun 5-6. “SCG realizes that Healthy Living is a fundamental factor of living and important to improving the quality of life thus contributing to sustainable social and cultural development. This activity will help reduce health concerns for monks,” said the President of SCG Cement-Building Materials Business, Mr Nithi Pataarachoke.

Accelerating Healthy Agriculture Project Launched To Improve Nutrition KPL: Lao News Agency 14th May 2019
The Lao PDR has received over EUR 11 million boost, aiming to improve the nutrition outcome of almost 24,000 women of reproductive age (15-49) and over 11,000 children in the Lao PDR. A Memorandum of Understanding for the Partnership of Improved Nutrition, Accelerating Healthy Agriculture and Nutrition Project was signed by Mr Vibol Chap, Country Programme Director of World Visions International Laos and Representatives from Provincial Health Departments of Savannakhet, Saravan and Attapeu in Vientiane on May 14, 2019. The European Union (EU) has provided funding of over EUR 10 million supporting the implementation of the Accelerating Healthy Agriculture and Nutrition Project (AHAN) which aligns with the multi-sectoral convergence approach of the National Nutrition Strategy, to create supportive conditions for enhanced household nutrition.

Social Protection, Water, Sanitation Projects To Improve Nutrition In Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 10th May 2019
Two new projects, totaling US$52 million, will jointly address high levels of stunting in northern provinces of Lao PDR. The Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project will lay the foundations of a national social protection system and support the delivery of a conditional cash transfer programme for improved nutrition. The Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project will improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

Malaysia

Malaysia delivers quality care to Vietnamese healthcare travellers Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 30th May 2019
It took us 1 hour 45 minutes for a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur. Stepping off of the plane, a staff from the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in red uniform was already waiting for us. He greeted us in a friendly manner and took us through customs and baggage claim at the airport so we did not need to wait in long lines. After clearing customs and immigration, the staff took us to MHTC’s VIP lounge to take a rest while waiting for the taxi to the hotel. We were very impressed by the reception for patients in Malaysia. Although we have visited Singapore and Thailand several times for overseas treatment, we felt very happy with the warm welcome as well as the simple and quick procedures at the airport. This service is necessary for patients who do not speak English or those who need special assistance to navigate the airports.

Plan for special council to propel health tourism in Sabah Free Malaysia Today 4th Jun 2019
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew plans to set up a Sabah Health Tourism Council (SHTC) under her tourism and culture ministry. Liew said the SHTC would play a key role in enhancing medical tourism in the state. She discussed the prospect of developing Sabah as a health tourism destination during a courtesy call by Commonwealth Pharmacists Association vice-president Dr Anil Kumar and several tourism players today. “The role of the proposed SHTC would be to formulate policies, regulate and promote the health tourism industry as well as monitor its growth.

Duopharma optimistic of resilient sales amid challenging times NST Online 31st May 2019
Duopharma Biotech Bhd is cautiously optimistic of its performance as it aggresively promotes its medicines to government and private hospitals. In the first quarter ended March 2019, Duopharma’s profits rose 36 per cent to RM14.47 million from RM10.65 million a year ago. Revenue for the quarter increased to RM150.39 million from RM13.26 million previously. "Our mandate from the board is to do better year after year. We hope to meet their expectations. We're aggresively promoting our products, both locally and in the export market," said Duopharma group managing director Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar.

IHH to refinance up to US$250m of non-lira debt New Straits Times 28th May 2019
IHH Healthcare Bhd plans to refinance up to US$250 million (US$1=RM4.18) of its non-lira debt and exchange some of the amount into Turkish lira this year to reduce its exposure to the lira volatility. Group chief financial officer Low Soon Teck said the company had reduced its non-lira debt to US$420 million from US$670 million previously. “We have to do it in stages, and it will be done within this year to reduce the forex (foreign exchange) volatility,” he told a press conference after the company’s annual general meeting here, today. IHH’s net profit for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18) fell to RM627.69 million from RM969.95 million previously, mainly due to the higher net forex losses for its Turkey-based healthcare group Acibadem Holdings’s non-lira loans.

IHH Healthcare's CEO to step down, Columbia Asia boss set to take ove New Straits Times 28th May 2019
IHH Healthcare Bhd says Dr Tan See Leng will cease to be its managing director and chief executive officer at the end of his contract on December 31 this year. In an exchange filing today, IHH also named Columbia Asia Group CEO Dr Kelvin Loh Chi-Keon as its CEO-designate. Loh also has been appointed IHH executive director effective July 1. “I am grateful and humbled for the opportunity to lead IHH’s development and work with an extraordinary team during my time here,” Tan said.

Malaysia base metals firms plan new group in drive to quell scrap... U.S. 20th May 2019
Malaysia’s non-ferrous metals players are joining forces to promote their scrap processing business as clean amid growing environmental alarm over recycling, seeking to cling on to a trade that has grown fast as China’s import curbs divert more scrap toward Southeast Asia.

KL drafting stiffer penalties for pollution offences The Straits Times 20th May 2019
Stiffer penalties of up to RM5 million (S$1.65 million) in fines will be imposed for environmental offences under a new Act that is currently being drafted. A trust fund is also being set up to reward whistle-blowers and for effective enforcement.These moves come in the wake of the recent toxic waste dumping into Johor's Sungai Kim Kim, which at its peak sent more than 4,000 people to hospitals in Pasir Gudang.

Govt tackling nurse shortage NST Online 13th May 2019
THE Health Ministry is pulling out all the stops to resolve the shortage of nurses in government clinics and hospitals. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the ministry has sought the Public Service Department’s (PSD) approval to allow the employment of nurses, in spite of the moratorium placed on their appointment. He said the ministry was working to address the shortage. He agreed that Malaysia lacked nurses, given its ratio of one nurse per 300 patients, as opposed to the World Health Organisation’s optimum number, which is one nurse per 200 patients.

Philippines

Health care spending seen lagging economic growth Business World 10th Jun 2019
HEALTH CARE expenditure in the Philippines is not keeping up with economic growth, according to a consultant engaged by the European Union to monitor programs supported by the bloc. “Despite the steady growth of GDP and overall government and private spending on health, there is no major increase of THE (total health expenditure) as percentage of GDP,” said Giovanni Cascone of IBF International Consulting, who prepared a report on two Philippine health programs supported financially by the EU. During his presentation at the Manila Hotel on Monday, Mr. Cascone added that health funding as a share of GDP increased to 4.5% in 2017 from 4.2% in 2010.

Higher alcohol, tobacco taxes to fund Universal Health Care programs in the Philippines The Middle East North Africa Financial Network, Inc. (MENAFN) 10th Jun 2019
More than being a means to raise funds, Duque said increased alcohol and tobacco taxes are a health measure which would keep Filipinos especially the youth away from smoking and drinking alcohol. Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday stressed the importance of passing the pending sin tax bills in the Senate to ensure sufficient funding for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program and improve health condition in the country.

Duque: More time needed for implementing rules on Universal Health Care  CNN 10th Jun 2019
The Universal Health Care law, applauded by advocates as a major reform that will ease Filipinos' financial burden, is expected to take effect next year. But the Department of Health (DOH) faces difficulty in coming up with the law's implementing rules and regulations (IRR). "It looks like many gray areas are surfacing from the provisions of the law. We would need more time to put clarity to these rather vague if not fuzzy provisions of the law," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a joint press conference with the  Department of Finance (DOF) Friday.

House to back Senate sin tax bill The Manila Times 28th May 2019
The House leadership has committed to support and adopt the Senate’s version of a bill imposing higher excise tax rates on cigarettes in a bid to accelerate congressional approval of the measure and ensure its enactment into law during the 17th Congress. In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said the House would support the Senate’s decision on the excise tax to be imposed on cigarettes to collect bigger revenues to finance the Universal Health Care (UHC) program. President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the sin tax bill as priority legislation.

Court junks Sanofi, Zuellig bid to dismiss Dengvaxia raps BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City has denied the motions filed by the officers of Sanofi Pasteur Inc. (SPI)  and Zuellig Pharma Corp. seeking the dismissal of the damage suit filed against them over the deaths of children inoculated with the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine. A resolution issued by QC RTC Branch 226 Presiding Judge Manuel Sta. Cruz Jr., held that the complaint filed by the heirs of Abbie Hedia sufficiently state a cause of action against the officers of the two companies to proceed with the trial of the case.

Singapore

Singapore approves drug to treat late-stage breast cancer in patients with inherited genetic mutation The Straits Times 17th May 2019
A drug that has been used to treat ovarian cancer since 2014 was approved last month by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for treating late-stage breast cancer in patients with a rare genetic mutation. Called Olaparib, the drug is more effective and less toxic than chemotherapy drugs. It kills cancer cells containing mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes - which normally function as tumour suppressors - by inhibiting their ability to repair their DNA. However, Olaparib does not come cheap. A month's supply can cost up to $8,000 before subsidies.

Thailand

Draft Political Declaration Outlines Leaders' Commitments on UHC International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) 10th Jun 2019
The zero draft of a political declaration on universal health coverage is under consideration by UN Member States. The text highlights health as a right and stresses the importance of health for “all the goals and targets” of the 2030 Agenda. The draft was expected to be presented to governments on 21 May, discussed at informal consultations on 28 May, and considered further through informal consultations in June and early July. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) will hold a high-level meeting on UHC on 23 September 2019, mandated to result in a political declaration. The Permanent Representatives of Georgia and Thailand circulated a zero draft of the declaration on 17 May, titled ‘Universal Health Coverage: Moving together to build a healthier world.’ At nine pages long and 66 paragraphs, the text sets out 13 areas for action. The action areas include: accelerate high-impact interventions; health financing; strengthen primary health care (PHC); quality and affordable access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and health technologies; governance and participatory approach; strong health and social workforce; promoting the use of technologies, innovation and data; mainstreaming gender, equity and human rights; and UHC in fragile situations and health security.

Kingdom of Thailand Transforms into the "Bio-Hub" of ASEAN markets.businessinsider.com 28th May 2019
The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) is ready to push the country's status as a global leader in bio-economy to the next level, with robotics at the forefront. The Board of Investment has created a corporate income tax exemption (CIT) of up to 8 years for medical robotics companies specializing in the manufacture of automation equipment as well as a 5-year tax exemption for the assembling of robots or automation equipment and parts companies. The investment promotion incentives are intended to help attract investment at a time when the country is developing robotics technology in the medical field and establishing the Biopolis, a center for research and innovation in life sciences and biotechnology. "Thailand BOI's new incentives for bio investors will advance the country's life sciences industry tremendously," said Mr. Chokedee Kaewsang, Deputy Secretary General of the Thailand Board of Investment. "The creation of the Biopolis, an innovation center for biotechnology, is expected to further establish Thailand's status as the 'bio-hub' of ASEAN by encouraging the development of science and technology in the country."

Private hospitals ordered to display medicine prices Bangkok Post 10th May 2019
Starting next week, private hospitals must display the prices of medicines so that consumers can make better-informed decisions prior to purchase, the government said on Friday. As well, private hospitals must give patients the opportunity to buy medicines from pharmacies outside the hospital using prescriptions provided by their doctors. Acting Commerce Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara made the comment after chairing a meeting of the Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services, which approved the proposals on Friday. “Prices of medicines must be shown either on the hospital’s website or via QR codes on a chart displayed clearly at the hospital,” she said. Those that do not comply could face a fine of up to 10,000 baht and/or one year in jail.

Extra doses of MMR vaccine approved to help eliminate measles in Thailand The Thaiger 9th Jun 2019
The National Health Security Office has approved 100,000 additional doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to help reduce, and hopefully eradicate, the current rise of measles cases in Thailand. The additional doses of the vaccine will be handed over to the Department of Disease Control in August and will target Thai children aged under seven and adults living in large groups – such as prisons, military camps and factories.

Cabinet approves seven conditions for regulation of marijuana The Nation 29th May 2019
The Cabinet yesterday fleshed out regulatory details for the production, distribution and possession of marijuana, months after the longstanding narcotics law was amended to allow the production and possession of cannabis for medical purposes. The amended law was broadly stated, leading the Public Health Ministry to add detailed conditions and forward them for Cabinet approval Under the new ministerial regulation adopted yesterday, seven conditions are laid out to permit the possession of cannabis, as well as its production and delivery.

BMA declares six no-smoking zones Bangkok Post 29th May 2019
City Hall established six no-smoking zones in the capital as a part of a pilot project to curb the rising numbers of new smokers in the country. "The smoking restrictions come into effect immediately, and officers from municipal offices and as well as Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will strictly observe and implement the ban," said deputy Bangkok governor Thaweesak Lertprapan on Wednesday. The six zones declared as smoke-free areas are Bangkok Bus Terminal in Chatuchak, Don Mueang airport, Silom Road in Bang Rak district, Victory Monument, Taling Chan Floating Market and Chatuchak Market 2 in Min Buri district.

Smoking rate on the rise despite govt efforts Bangkok Post 27th May 2019
More than 70,000 Thais die from smoking-related illnesses each year, and the number of new smokers — some as young as 10 years old — is on the rise, despite the country's decades-long effort to curb smoking rates, which was initiated by the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda. "Subsequent measures to increase the tax on cigarette purchases and scare prospective smokers by using graphic images of medical conditions caused by smoking have earned Thailand an applause from the World Health Organisation," said Daniel Kertesz, WHO's representative to Thailand, who added that he remains "saddened" by the statistics.

Rotavirus shots by next year, govt says Bangkok Post 24th May 2019
Health authorities are planning a vaccination campaign for rotavirus, a condition which may cause severe inflammation of the bowels among newborn babies. Thawee Chotipittayasunon, a member of the National Vaccine Board, said the subcommittee for immunisation programmes approved the plan to start administering rotavirus vaccines after successful trials were carried out in several provinces.

Pot prescriptions possible by end of June Bangkok Post 24th May 2019
Some state hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health will begin prescribing cannabis-based medicine by the end of June, a department official said on Friday. Dr Somsak Akhasilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services, said the ministry was currently training doctors on the use of the drug. “All our workshops are fully booked, and many include doctors from private hospitals as well,” he told reporters, adding that the ministry planned to hold at least two more training sessions.

Tens of thousands apply for pot amnesty Bangkok Post 23rd May 2019
A total of 31,177 people applied for the medical marijuana amnesty online during the 90-day registration period, which means the number of medical marijuana users in Thailand may exceed 50,000, says the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre. However, Prof Thiravat Hemachudah, the head of the centre -- which assisted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the online amnesty registration process -- said patients will still have to contact the FDA to complete the process. On Tuesday, the FDA said about 20,000 people had registered for the amnesty in person.

Commerce Ministry warns on prices Bangkok Post 21st May 2019
The Commerce Ministry is once again warning private hospitals of severe legal repercussions for overcharging patients, after several probes found that many medical facilities often mark up the prices of their medicines by as much as 900%. The source said complaints have been received via the 1569 hotline alerting the ministry to the problem. One caller claimed to have been charged 30,000 baht to be treated for diarrhoea at a private hospital.

Red alert to stop ‘pig ebola’ crossing border Bangkok Post 20th May 2019
Thailand, one of Asia’s top pork producers, is intensifying efforts to hold off a lethal pig virus that’s causing havoc as it spreads across the region. African swine fever — a disease that kills nearly all the pigs it infects — has been spreading through Asia from China and Mongolia to Vietnam and Cambodia. Millions of pigs have been culled, creating a global protein shortage and saddling farmers and food businesses with billions of dollars in costs.

Ganja coming in allergy-type drops 'by July' Bangkok Post 16th May 2019
The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) said on Thursday it is ready to deliver medicinal cannabis products in the form of sublingual — or under-the-tongue — drop to hospitals nationwide by the end of July. The GPO, a Thai state enterprise that manufactures pharmaceutical products, has been authorised by the Ministry of Public Health to grow cannabis and conduct research into ways of developing related medicines. This came about after the government acknowledged the legitimacy of evidence showing the outlawed substance can have health-enhancing properties.

Vietnam

Commitment to better healthcare Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 10th Jun 2019
AstraZeneca has announced an investment of $220 ­million in Vietnam. What objectives do you have in mind with this investment? With this investment, ­AstraZeneca will focus on three key areas in the next five years including local healthcare capacity, research and development, and talent development. As part of our commitment to developing Vietnam’s healthcare capacity, we will be working with our partners to implement the Young Health Programme, our global community investment programme focusing on youth and the prevention of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease by addressing risk factors surrounding them. Another part of the investment will be spent to advance our collaboration on research and innovation. We are committed to be a great place to work in Vietnam, by developing over 500 skilled jobs to support these accelerated efforts and ensure a future pipeline of talent and innovative medicine.

AstraZeneca scales up investment in Vietnam Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 28th May 2019
AstraZeneca has just announced a five-year investment of VND5 trillion ($220 million) for the 2020-2024 period in Vietnam during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s ongoing visit to Sweden. The investment, which was announced at AstraZeneca’s main manufacturing site in Södertälje in the presence of the Vietnamese Premier and representatives from the Swedish government, underpins AstraZeneca’s commitment to the Vietnamese government’s call for all healthcare partners to strive for better health for the Vietnamese people, as expressed in the 2017 resolution and the recently launched “Vietnam Health Programme”. The investment accelerates AstraZeneca’s existing efforts to expand access to healthcare and to improve the quality of healthcare delivery for Vietnamese patients. This will also ensure that the company continues to develop high value employment.