Vietnam: Increased Opportunities for Foreign Drug Manufacturers

Increasing drug prices in Vietnam prompted Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MoH) to adopt a series of measures to efficiently control drug prices and drug imports and stabilize the country’s pharmaceutical market. Beginning in June 2004, foreign pharmaceutical companies holding operating licenses in Vietnam could begin supplying pharmaceuticals to any local import-export company in Vietnam, so long as the local distributors or manufacturers could not supply the drug, or could only supply it at a very high price. Previously, foreign firms were only permitted to sell their products to local Vietnamese companies holding registered drug trademarks. This new regulation will help end the monopoly on foreign imports held by local trademark-holding companies and enable foreign companies to increase their presence in the Vietnamese pharmaceutical market.

The MoH will implement additional regulations for the importation and distribution of foreign drugs in Vietnam. For instance, in April 2004, the MoH established a panel, which will meet once a week to review license applications for the approval of drugs not yet registered for distribution in Vietnam. This new panel should help speed up the license application review process. Additionally, plans have been drafted for several projects which will help ensure an adequate drug supply for the domestic market, expand the domestic drug market and improve the management of drug trading and production. Moreover, the number of pharmaceuticals imported into Vietnam should increase from its current 60% with the introduction of these new drug regulations.