Taiwan: Pharma at the Tipping Point - Pharmaceutical Executive


Taiwan: Pharma at the Tipping Point

Pharmaceutical Executive

Chih-Liang Yaung, Minister of Health.
For Taiwanese companies like Chifu Trading, China offers huge potential for growth. A family-run company with a solid distribution business in Taiwan, Chifu is now looking to broaden its horizons to more challenging markets in Asia. As Wayne Hsu, managing director of Chifu, explains, "Chifu can introduce a lot of products from Taiwan to China. A lot of Indian companies are afraid of going to China. Chifu can help them, and is already doing this. But the company is also helping Chinese companies to come to Taiwan. Chinese companies see Taiwan as an interesting market. They can also use it as a test market: Taiwanese people are perhaps more open and willing to spend more than Chinese patients." For those with expertise in the Taiwanese market, the growing relationship with China offers a lot of opportunities—both countries speak the same language and the culture is remarkably similar, something very few can say when entering the Chinese market for the first time.

But it is not just domestic Taiwanese companies that see the potential for using Taiwan as a gateway to China. Warren Chen is country manager of Celgene Taiwan. Celgene arrived in Asia very recently, but is using its Taiwanese operations in order to create a model to be replicated across the continent. Chen explains that "Celgene is only now embarking on a China strategy but the market there still has many questions. Not everything is in place yet, and guidelines and policies are not so clear. So we have to have a business model to copy in those areas where Chinese is spoken. I would like to copy Taiwan's experience to China, especially in medical development. Many Taiwanese doctors have Western education and experiences compared to Chinese doctors. We have many good ideas here. This is a very good opportunity for Celgene's drug development."

Chi-huey Wong, President, Academia Sinica.
The aspect of the Diamond Action plan that is arguably the most ambitious is the planned creation of a US$18.7 billion venture capital fund, a collaboration between the government and private investors. Jeff Wang, president of DCB, explains how this will help the industry to develop, and the role that DCB will take on once this capital has been injected into the industry: "Once the bio-venture capital fund (one of the strategies in the Diamond Action Plan) starts operating, I expect that there will be a lot of startup companies forming with several potential blockbusters in their product pipelines. DCB would like to work closely with the bio-venture capital management teams in terms of conducting due diligence studies and translational research for those startup companies." Wang believes that it will only take four to five years for this type of activity to flourish. This is an indication of the hopes that many in the industry are resting on the rapid development of the Diamond Action Plan.


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