Pharmaniaga to expand vaccines supply to SE Asia and African market

These markets have tremendous potential for growth, its group MD says

by ANIS HAZIM / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

PHARMANIAGA Bhd wants to expand its presence in South-East Asia and the African markets by supplying Sinovac Covid-19 finished vaccines manufactured at its high-tech plant.

Group MD Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said these markets have tremendous potential for growth and will be the group’s focus areas to supply the vaccine.

“Following our completion of distributing and supplying of Sinovac vaccine to the federal government totalling 20.4 million doses, we are looking at further opportunities to export the vaccine.

“Currently, we are discussing with Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd to facilitate the export of the vaccine to countries that face challenges in securing sufficient supply in South-East Asia and several African nations,” Zulkarnain said at a virtual media briefing yesterday.

He said Pharmaniaga is focused on improving its operations to capture the immense potential in these countries given the Sinovac vaccines are effective against viruses and give health benefits.

Pharmaniaga’s net profit for the second quarter of 2021 (2Q21) rose 44.6% to RM13.9 million from RM9.6 million in the preceding quarter last year due to higher demand from the concession and non-concession business and its Indonesian businesses.

The significant increase in the non-concession business was attributable to the sales of the Sinovac vaccine to the Health Ministry.

Revenue for the quarter increased by 82.3% to RM1.18 billion from RM645.8 million in the same quarter last year, leading Pharmaniaga to declare a second interim dividend of 1.5 sen per share.

Pharmaniaga said the vaccine business will continue to contribute to group revenue as according to the World Health Organisation, the Covid-19 pandemic will prolong until the year 2025.

Currently, only about 30% of the world population has received a full dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

“We will upgrade to about 40 million doses per year to meet the vaccine demand in South-East Asia and the African continent,” added Zulkarnain.

He said less than 20% of the 700 million population in South-East Asia were fully vaccinated, while only 10% of 1.3 billion Africans were fully vaccinated.

Pharmaniaga will continue production via its wholly-owned subsidiary high-tech plant, Pharmaniaga LifeScience Sdn Bhd, following the recent approval from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to manufacture fill and finish Sinovac vaccine two-dose per vial.

“This will immediately ramp up the plant’s capacity from two million to four million doses per month, starting August 2021.

“We are ever ready to provide national stockpile support to the government in the event of delays in delivery by other vaccine manufacturers as well as to meet the demand from the state governments and private sector,” stated Zulkarnain.

On the proposal of Covid-19 vaccine be given to children aged 12 to 17 in Malaysia, Pharmaniaga has submitted relevant documents to NPRA for the use of the Sinovac vaccine, given the approval obtained in Indonesia and China.

Pharmaniaga is expecting Sinovac to offer booster shots soon, particularly for vulnerable and high-risk groups in the population to maintain protection against the virus, especially from new variants.

The pharma group is also developing its own vaccines.

“Since 2018, we have planned to develop our own vaccines and the Covid-19 virus came in just in time for us to understand the vaccines against the viruses. Hopefully, our vaccines will be completed by 2024,” Zulkarnain said.

Pharmaniaga remains optimistic for its 3Q and expects to record a sterling performance by focusing on operational efficiencies and fiscal discipline throughout its value chain, helped by the supply and distribution of Sinovac vaccines in the country and overseas market.