While the Ministry of Health has created favourable conditions for domestic pharmaceutical companies to expand production, the industry needs to develop a strategy to attract investment, said Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Trieu.

Most domestic pharmaceutical companies simply produce basic medicines but not the more specific, higher value products supplied by foreign-invested ones, said Trieu. Over 90 percent of their raw materials are imported, and they lack high-tech production lines, he said.

Vu Thi Thuan, general director of domestic pharmaceutical firm Traphaco, said that Vietnam has many kinds of herbal ingredients available but has not built on this natural advantage.

Only about 10 percent of materials for the industry come from the domestic market, but this could be much higher if manufacturers took advantage of diverse local materials, Thuan says, urging the Government to generate a strategy for developing markets and growing areas for medicinal herbs under the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) of the World Health Organisation.

Poor management of raw material supplies has also made it more difficult for the authorities to keep the prices of medicines stabilised, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Huu Hao.

The rising prices of imported pharmaceuticals also continue to put pressure on domestic prices, Hao said./.