Halal Law ‘Will Destroy’ Indonesia’s Pharmaceutical Industry: Bio Farma
Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. Indonesia’s vaccine industry has requested to be exempt from a controversial halal bill that would require the raw ingredients of food, medicine and cosmetics products to meet halal requirements.
The nation’s vaccine industry faces up to Rp 1.5 trillion ($156 million) in losses if the bill is passed into law, said Iskandar, president director of the state-owned vaccine producer Bio Farma.
The vaccine maker currently imports 95 percent of the raw material used to make vaccines, Iskandar said. It is unlikely the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) will issue halal certification for all vaccines, he added.
Indonesia has been unable to produce its own meningitis vaccine because the MUI had issues with the vaccine, which uses a derivative of pork enzymes, he said.
“We will die if this regulation comes into force,” Iskandar said on the sidelines of the 13th Meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) in Kuta, Bali, on Friday. “This will destroy the pharmaceutical industry.”
Iskandar called the bill counterproductive, explaining that the government cannot both tackle the nation’s many health concerns and pass a sweeping halal-only law.
He urged all domestic pharmaceutical companies to push for an exemption.
“It will be better off if [the law] is only applied to food products,” Iskandar said.
The controversial bill is still under deliberation in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers are at odds over who should enforce the halal law, according to the Indonesian news portal kontan.co.id.
Indonesian Muslims have championed the bill, saying that few food products, and even less cosmetics are certified halal by the MUI. According to MUI estimates, some 15 percent of all products sold in Indonesia have halal certifications.
The certification is voluntary in Indonesia. Cosmetic companies only account for 10 percent of requests received by the MUI.
But companies have called the bill an unnecessary burden.
Bio Farma currently earns 70 percent of its income from exporting vaccines to 117 countries, he said. The vaccine maker predicted a 15 percent boost in earnings this year.