REPORT #643 May 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Admittedly there is not much of a generic drug manufacturing industry right now in Belize. But with the advent of a world wide market via the internet, marketing tools, sales themes are changing. So far, in Belize in an Economic Powerment Zone, there are generics of a cholesterol generic drug being made and offered and a generic sudenfil citrate, erectile dysfunction drug aid being manufactured and sold over the internet.

Many countries in the Commonwealth of nations ( ex-British colonies) are starting to jump on the bandwagon. India is ahead of the game, due to a very large internal market of over a billion people. It makes it worthwhile! Tiny Belize however, is an anomaly with a minimal internal local market of a few thousand customers. Exports are the goal of generic manufacture in Belize. Lord knows, Belize needs all the exports it can get. The changing world of high speed internet marketing is changing world economics.

The G8 industrialized countries however are alarmed. They see inroads into their export manufacturing processes and marketing around the world is threatened. Already the firm in tiny Belize is being sued for patent infringement, but in the USA; not within the legal jurisdiction of Belize, which does not recognize like most ex-British colonial countries, the USA world patents granted to US international corporations.

The question; will tiny Belize develop further their export potential in locally manufactured generic drugs? There are many drugs with large markets and artificial high priced products to generate profits. Some of the most popular are drugs to fight cholesterol and drugs to treat arthritis, to depression fighting drugs and of course the popular old age erectile dysfunction variety. To name a few. Many European countries, particularly the French have some excellent medical research and drugs not found in the USA markets, due to lengthy FDA processes and corporate influence in the political process to protect profits. Many drug companies in the US market, stand accused of exploiting loopholes in their laws to extend patent protection. Keeping both local and foreign cheaper generic competition out of the marketplace, to protect profits in the trillions of dollars.

Belize does not yet fear any foreign civil actions on drug generic manufacture. For people who would sue, must do so in a Belize court and the legislation has not yet been made to argue these cases. More than anything the local Belizean manufacturer entering the generic drug manufacturing and exporting process must fear their own government bureaucrats. You have licensing body, spokespeople, making announcements that drug manufacture is against the law. The Ministry of Health chief bureaucrat also wants to forbid and regulate this new export industry. It's not like this is rocket science. Any Chemistry major with lab experience can make these drugs and since they are usually not even compounds like done by druggists behind the back wall of local pharmacies manufacturing doctors prescriptions, which may vary in quality in Belize drug stores. The usual export drug is one substance that has no variation in quality, only in size of the pill measured in grams.

Bureaucratic opposition is a problem of course. The civil service in Belize is riddled with well trained, but narrowly focused people who often administrate departments that require thinking outside of their field of expertise. The elected politician is supposed to fill this gap and bring bureaucrats untrained to administrate, like doctors, into line with development plans. Exports of any kind being a priority of development and meeting the tax needs of government payrolls. It remains to be seen if the politicians who are from a tiny country, inexperienced and often uneducated and entirely provincial in outlook; see the advantages of the generic drug manufacturing export business and encourage it to expand, by not giving in to degree'd bureaucrats who are pushing ridiculous regulatory agendas. There is the other factor too? That of the G 8 countries and their carrot and stick approach to third world countries. They give a little aid, but then they pressure and demand local provincial politicians sign treaties and agreements that are often against their own best interests. Mostly these are intended to hang a chain and ball around countries like Belize, to make them markets for G 8 products. Not to have them enter into worldwide economic competition. Can our local provincial politicians smell the scams when presented to them by foreign supersalemen? There lies the question? No doubt in my mind, the political solution is to do minimal if any legislation and encourage wholeheartedly the new fledgling generic drug manufacturing export industry, just starting in Belize. Exports are exports and the foreign exchange earned, pays one way or another through taxes, the salaries of bureaucrats and politicians alike. But will they realize? The bureaucrats obviously don't, from intrepretation of recent press releases. But do the provincial politicians of ours? Ah ahhhh! There lies the question. "To be, or not to be?"

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