Local pharmaceuticals producers will have a chance to expand their market share in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to a new programme designed to stabilise prices for essential drugs in the southern economic hub.

Deputy director Pham Khanh Phong of the city's Health Department said that consumption of locally produced medicines has greatly increased in the city's market.

"The city's health sector will continue to mobilise more pharmaceuticals companies and to join and expand the programme by providing a wider range of pharmaceuticals to the city, especially the outskirts and remote districts," said Phong.

City statistics show that locally manufactured drugs, especially those already in the programme aimed at stabilising prices for essential pharmaceutical products, are increasingly being used for clinical treatment month by month.

As many as 13 companies have joined the programme, providing 392 products from 21 categories, which accounts for 50 percent of the city's demand for essentially needed drugs.

Retail distribution networks have increased six fold, from 400 to 2,336 stores, including 1,686 private stores, 107 hospitals and 543 pharmaceuticals companies, and account for 55 percent of the city's retail sales.

Locally produced drugs are between 5-10 percent cheaper than other similar drug brands on the market, which accounts for the 20 percent increase in output for companies involved in the programme.

The Deputy Director of the Phu Yen Pharmaceutical Company (Pymepharco), Nguyen Huu Nien, told Nhan Dan (The People) newspaper that the company's drugs that are part of the price stabilisation list have seen increased usage, between 10-20 per cent in the city's hospitals and between 20-30 percent in district hospitals.

The programme, encouraging Vietnamese to use locally manufactured drugs, was created to inform the public and doctors about the availability of locally produced pharmaceuticals.

The programme was supported by many hospitals, where doctors were encouraged to fill prescription with locally produced drugs for patients with general diseases in an effort to promote the use of drugs manufactured locally, Phong said.

The Ministry of Health launched the programme in March, aiming to increase the use of home made drugs in medical treatment to 60 percent of the country's demand by 2015.

In order to achieve the programme's goal, all pharmaceuticals and trading companies will have to meet the Good Manufacture Practice (GMP), Good Store Practice (GSP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standards by 2015.

These requirements aim to encourage and create favourable conditions for local drug companies to improve the quality of their products and the competition within the local market.-VNA