JAKARTA - Indonesia has many intellectual human resources who have the ability to develop domestic pharmaceutical raw materials. However, the opportunity is constrained by a lack of research budget. By producing own drug raw materials, it is expected that independence of Indonesian people in the field of medicine can be achieved within 10-15 years.
Pharmacological expert from UGM Faculty of Medicine, Prof. dr. Iwan Dwi Prahasto, M.Med.Sc., Ph.D., said that currently 96% raw materials of drugs in Indonesia are still imported from China and India. Even in the past 50 years, Indonesia along with the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar become countries with high dependency of drug raw materials. "This is what makes Indonesia as a country with bargaining position relatively disadvantaged in setting drug policy at the regional level, let alone the world level," Iwan said in the discussion of research results recommendation of national health care industry in the 3rd Indonesia Industry Research Forum (3rd IIRF), at the auditorium, Wednesday (30/11).
The inability to produce raw drug materials makes the public and government resign to drugs price movement which is very difficult to control by the government. That is because the price of drug raw materials is strongly influenced by foreign currency exchange rates. "We have 204 pharmaceutical industries; approximately 96 percent of their pharmaceutical raw materials are imported from China and India. Investment is not in drug raw materials but on the packing, promotion and penetration," he said.
Due to imported raw materials, many pharmaceutical industries prefer to develop herbal medicines in the form of herbs and supplements. This is because producing new drugs requires funding about hundreds of millions of dollars. "It takes 13-15 years to be able to produce a drug," he said.
Increase research budget
Iwan emphasized the government needs to increase the budget for university to do research on drug raw materials and medical technology. He said that there are 180 thousand health researches but about 98 percent include short term research, not comprehensive and sustainable. There is even the same study being conducted by researchers from different universities. "If there is any good research, it is not facilitated due to limited funding in university for research," he said
In addition, nearly 90 percent of medical and health technology in Indonesia still has to be imported to meet the health service demands. The utilization of high medical technology is about 2 percent, some 42 percent use low technology and the remaining uses mid-level technology. According to Iwan, human resources in Indonesia are able to develop medical technology as practiced by developed countries. "Research on health technology does not take long, at least 3 years," he said.
Expert Staff to Minister of Health, Dr. Dr. Soewarta Kosen, M.P.H, admitted funding for health research is still minimal. Although not specifically intended for the allocation of research, he added, the government will continue to increase the health budget by allocating about 5 percent of the state budget or 70 trillion rupiah and 10 percent of regional budget. He suggested the college to also utilize funds from international aid. "From APEC there is a great offer in grants for research," he said.
Vice Chairman of Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Bambang Sujagad said, the industry needs the support from university research results. Nevertheless, the industry currently finds it difficult to compete with other countries because of constraints in bank loan’s interest and logistic cost in the distribution of products. "In terms of financing, in Malaysia and the Philippines, bank interest is only 6 percent to 10 percent. In our country it is 14 percent. In industry, there are also costs about 16 percent for logistics in the distribution of the product. If in the neighboring country Malaysia it is only 5 percent, just imagine if we bring oranges from Medan to Jakarta, how many retribution costs that must be paid," he added.