Country Report: Singapore - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Country Report: Singapore
The Little Red Dot That Did

Pharmaceutical Executive


THE BIG GUNS: BRANDISHING OR RE-POLISHING?

While the global pharmaceutical market has been trundling along with around a 2 to 4 percent annual growth, China and Indonesia are leading Asian growth with approximately 15 percent annual growth, explains Rhenu Bhuller Frost & Sullivan's Vice President of Healthcare for Asia Pacific. As the pharma world continues to crane its neck towards the east, Asia is seen as a cornerstone for boosting sales. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, regional pharma sales have more than doubled from USD 97 billion in 2001 to over 214 billion in 2010 and are expected to reach 386 billion by the year 2016.

"Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world for us and our expectation is that it will continue growing in the coming years," says Augusto Muench, regional director, South East Asia and managing director of Singapore for Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). Last year, 16 percent of the company's total growth was attributed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Fabio Landazabal, Senior VP & Area Director, Asia Pacific GSK
Although Patrick Bergstedt, president of MSD, Asia Pacific believes that "the growth of the emerging markets has to counterbalance the pressure in the US and in Europe," Asia is no longer the low-hanging fruit. Opportunities are riddled with challenges.

Besides a tougher healthcare environment that makes it costly to develop original compounds, Bergstedt says that Asia's cost of entry is much higher due to generic competition. "Also problematic are the hurdles for doing clinical studies, getting drugs approved, and dramatically escalating reimbursements pressures."

The situation is complicated and growth is stifled by the conundrum of funding.


Patrick Bergstedt, President Asia Pacific MSD
"Governments want to properly expand healthcare access worldwide, therefore require proper funding for it. On the other hand, research based pharmaceutical companies, such as ours, with innovative molecules want to continue their research, which also requires funding." In the middle of both, explains Muench, "there are physicians that need to be able to provide those innovative products to patients that are in need."

And if growth is ultimately guaranteed, sustainability is not.

"I doubt that the current business model we operate in could withstand and be sustainable given these challenges," concludes Muench.


Christina Teo, Country Manager, Pfizer Singapore
Fabio Landazabal, senior vice president and area director, Asia Pacific for GSK agrees: "The pharmaceutical model is at a stage where it might benefit from strategic collaborations with diverse industries such as IT and banking."

The industry is shifting towards the two-brains-are-better-than-one route. Collaborations and partnerships are seen, if not as a cure-all, then undoubtedly as mandatory to cope with the complexities.

"In this perspective, we have to forge partnerships to see how we can help play a role. The price of medicine is just one component; we have to look at the cost of healthcare, which includes the price of medicines, infrastructure, supply logistics, training of healthcare personnel, etc.," says Bergstedt, who is hoping to bring MSD up to third place in Asia Pacific, from its current rank of fifth.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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