Slow Transition From Herbal To Western Drugs

BMI View: Botanicals-based products will remain a key source of remedy for patients in Myanmar given the low per-capita healthcare expenditure forecast over the medium term. However, as the country develops economically, we expect an increase in the use of Western pharmaceuticals, consequentially limiting the overall market potential of botanical products over the longer term.

The CEO of China-based Tasly Pharmaceutical International, Bill Dai, has met with officials from Myanmar's Department of Traditional Medicine. Tasly will help the department better understand the good manufacturing practice (GMP) system. According to the Ministry of Health, traditional medicines (usually herbal in nature) are well accepted by patients in the Asian country. Myanmar is also supportive of the further development of traditional medicines. For example, two 50-bed traditional medicine hospitals in Yangon and Mandalay were upgraded in 2012 to extend the scope of healthcare services by traditional medicine. We note that the majority of pharmaceutical operators in Myanmar are engaged to some extent in herbal medicines.

About Fame Pharmaceutical

Established in 1999, privately-owned Fame Pharmaceutical is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Myanmar. It produces natural and organic products that can be used to treat various diseases including malaria, tuberculosis and cancer. According to company website, the factory received a GMP certificate from the Ministry of Health in 2003. Its key products are mostly over-the-counter (OTC) and it exports products to various countries including Germany, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and Malaysia.

Selected List Of Products
Product Categories Product Indications
Source: company website
Bee Bee Pollen Anti-inflammatory
Royal Jelly N/A
Consumer Herbigesic Anti-inflammatory
Herbicough Alternative to anti-tussive drug
Natural Healer (contains aloe vera, propolis extract and honey) Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory
Porpolis Honey (contains honey and propolis extract) Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory
Herbal Drugs Neurogin (contains ginkgo biloba leaf extract) Antioxidant
Hepa-B (contains various plant extracts including phyllanthus miruri, ganoderma lucidum) Treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection
Biogurt (contains yogurt) Prevention and treatment of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and immune-enhancement
SWOT Analysis
  • One of the more established privately-owned pharmaceutical firms in Myanmar

  • Has a GMP-certified facility - a rarity in a frontier market like Myanmar

Source: BMI
  • Sole focus on herbal products which can only be sold as OTC drugs in other countries

  • Potential partnerships with Chinese firms looking at traditional medicines as the Chinese government is also interested in boosting its traditional Chinese medicine sector under the 12th five-year plan

  • Potential export opportunities to other frontier markets that are unable to afford Western pharmaceuticals

  • Progressive economic development in Myanmar can potentially result in lost in market share as patients can better afford Western pharmaceuticals


The firm's use of quality and organic medicines is suitable and in line with what we expect for Myanmar, at least over the short to medium term. This is largely due to the low per-capita expenditure on healthcare (US$17.97) and pharmaceuticals (US$4.37) - people who are unable to afford healthcare tend to turn to herbal medicines for self-treatment.

However, as the economy develops, Myanmar will follow similar paths taken by other developing countries such as Vietnam and China. While the consumption of traditional medicines and supplements still exists in these countries, the pharmaceutical industries have evolved from producing low-cost OTC products, followed by active pharmaceutical ingredients, generic drugs and finally the production of innovative drugs as technology advances. Consequently, we highlight that the firm will have to move beyond herbal-based products should it want to maintain market share in the country over the longer term.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Geography: Myanmar, Myanmar, Myanmar, Myanmar

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