Brunei drafts world’s 1st halal drugs rules

By Debbie Too


THE Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) has announced the recent
endorsement of the Sultanate’s halal pharmaceutical guidelines put
together by a group of government agencies.

Slated to be the first of its kind, the set of guidelines is seen to
help Brunei Darussalam attract investors keen on grabbing a share of
the market for halal-certified pharmaceuticals.

BEDB Chief Executive Officer Vincent Cheong said the guidelines
would “help with convincing foreign investors to look at Brunei as a
location for the manufacturing of halal pharmaceuticals.

“Because it is the first of its kind in the world, it will be good
for us to use this as an opportunity for first-mover advantage,” he

In a press statement, the BEDB said the guidelines were put together
by government agencies including the Brunei Islamic Religious Council,
the Islamic Religious Council Office, the Department of Syariah Affairs
and the Islamic Legal Unit of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the
State Mufti’s Office from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Department
of Agriculture and Agrifood from the Ministry of Industry and Primary
Resources, the Department of Pharmaceutical Services from the Ministry
of Health and the Brunei Economic Development Board.

“This is not a BEDB thing, it involves ministries and agencies and
the BEDB is just one of the parts to this, and we give full credit to
the team who have got the guidelines up and running,” said Cheong.

BEDB will act as the investor promotion body that will promote Brunei as a destination for halal pharmaceutical manufacturing.

What led to BEDB taking the initiative in helping put together the
guidelines was the interest expressed by foreign investors in setting
up halal pharmaceutical plants in Brunei, said Cheong.

“We have had some investors who came up to us who wanted to manufacture, and we thought, why not look at halal pharmaceuticals.”

Viva, a pharmaceutical company from Canada, is currently in
partnership with a Brunei entity for the proposed manufacture and
supply of halal-certified medicines, vitamins and nutritional
supplements in the region.

“With Viva their approximate investment in Brunei is US$12 million and will create close to 100 jobs in Brunei.” said Cheong.

“Once Viva is successful, and we are sure that Viva will be
successful, hopefully more and more companies start jumping on the
bandwagon (in Brunei).”

At the moment the guidelines cover a range of the procedures of the
manufacturing process, starting from the ingredient level to ensuring
that the manufacturing facilities are kept halal.

“This would also include the ingredient producers who wish to supply
to manufacturers, because it does cover ingredients so we would also be
looking out to entice companies or to invite companies who would be
interested in ingredients, as obviously these are ingredients which
would have to go through the halal pharmaceutical process,” said Cheong.

Meanwhile, the relevant government ministries will be looking to
initiatives at making the halal pharmaceutical standards available for
use as a global benchmark, he said.

These guidelines, he said, would be useful for Brunei because it would “create and put Brunei on the world map for halal”.

He added: “We already have a strong Islamic credibility but we
believe that it will strengthen our credibility internationally, so one
of the things that will be desirous for us to go to, is to establish
this as an international benchmark.”

Asked if the halal pharmaceutical guidelines and the attraction of
foreign investors will be linked to establishing their facilities in
the slated halal Agro-Technology Park, Cheong said, “I think eventually
what we will see is that the halal-Agro-Technology park is just a
facility space or land. The agro-tech park will form another nucleus
whereby more and more companies can set up their facilities within the
agro-tech park.”

Cheong said that he doesn’t think the guidelines will affect the local pharmaceutical import market.

“Being Muslims, I’m sure that it doesn’t mean that if you are sick,
and if you have to consume medicine, halal or haram doesn’t come into
place very much, but how we see it is that if there was an alternative
of halal medicines, certainly Muslims will prefer to take it,” he said.
The Brunei Times