KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Pharmaniaga Bhd expects COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently undergoing clinical trial in countries such as India and China, will be available in Malaysia in the first or second quarter of 2021, said its acting managing director, Mohamed Iqbal Abdul Rahman.

“Most of them (vaccine developers) have announced they will come out with the vaccine by end-2020, so my personal view is that they will support their locals first before offering it to other countries.

“So, when Malaysia receive the vaccine, our plant is ready to bottle it almost immediately,” he said at the company’s second-quarter of 2020 results announcement and financial performance briefing here, today.

Mohamed Iqbal, who is also chief operating officer, said once the vaccine received the approval from the government and has met the statutory requirements under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), it will get to the market.

He said the company is pumping in RM2 million to repurpose its existing small volume injectable (SVI) plant in Puchong for COVID-19 vaccine fill and finishing process.

“After the fill and finishing process, we will move back to what we did before,” he said.

Pharmaniaga has seven plants at six sites in Malaysia and one plant in Bandung, Indonesia, out of which only one — Pharmaniaga LifeScience Sdn Bhd in Puchong has the necessary equipment for COVID-19 fill and finish process.

Mohamed Iqbal added that the facility is good manufacturing practise (GMP) approved plant and the only SVI plant in Malaysia with European Union GMP.

“Our capacity is around 10 million doses per month on 10 doses vial,” he said.

For the outlook for this year, Mohamed Iqbal expects the company’s business to normalise in Q4 2020 — such as receiving the government’s orders at pre-COVID-19 level, and private sector to continue to grow.

“We will ensure the continuity of the government’s concession, focus on niche manufacturing such as to invest in new therapeutics, and expand our digitalisation exercise,” he said.

Overall, he foresees continuous growth for the pharmaceutical industry albeit in a more competitive environment, as the government had increased about six per cent of expenses in the healthcare sector under the previous budget.


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