National oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc is igniting its new S-curve pharmaceuticals business with the planned construction of a 1-billion-baht cancer drug production facility on its own land near the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate.

PTT will join hands with the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) to build the drug plant.

The development is part of PTT’s bid to capitalise on the government’s designated S-curve industries and create new value-added products separate from its core business.

Yesterday PTT signed a memorandum of understanding with the GPO to complete a feasibility study on a production facility for cancer medicine and active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Both parties plan to integrate each other’s skills while developing a cancer drug factory. The first medicine is expected to be produced commercially by 2025.

The feasibility study will take roughly six months before a final decision on the project, which both parties estimate will required 1 billion baht to develop.

PTT’s chief operating officer Auttapol Rerkpiboon said the move is part of the company’s strategic policy to enter higher-value businesses such as biodegradable plastics, medicines and life science products.

He said PTT has the skill to develop the production facility, as well as construct and manage the business, with more than 100 researchers and chemical scientists under the group, and it can assist the GPO through exchanges of know-how.

“Several feed stocks of medicine come from chemical and bio-based products, so PTT can provide this know-how to the government agency for future pharmaceutical research and development,” Mr Auttapol said.

“The first step in this collaboration will not focus on business benefits, but will be a social contribution because these medicines are not accessible for several thousands of patients.”

Mr Auttapol said the factory is tentatively located at PTT’s Wanarom Eco Zone Industrial (WEcozi) on a plot of 500 rai near the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, where PTT has already developed basic infrastructure.

The WEcozi was developed several years ago to prepare for new business diversification under PTT Group, mainly for higher-growth or S-curve businesses.

GPO managing director Nopporn Cheanklin said that if Thai medicine producers do not make any cancer drugs, overseas firms from Europe and the US will continue to control the local market.

He said cancer deaths in Thailand are the highest relative to other diseases, at 60,000 people a year, with 8 million deaths worldwide.

Dr Nopporn said the GPO as a national medicine purchaser has to import cancer drugs worth roughly 5 billion baht annually.

PTT shares closed yesterday on the SET at 488 baht, up four baht, in trade worth 2.83 billion baht.

News Reporter

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