AMIDST THE FLUX, SINGAPORE IS A BEACON
Big pharma has settled into Singapore quite comfortably. Companies ubiquitously echo that the supportive government, great
IP landscape, plethora of talent, and superlative infrastructure and research capabilities, enable them to effectively watchtower
the regional markets—a major reason why most MNCs have established their regional headquarters here as well as their manufacturing
facilities and R&D sites.
Translational research capabilities in Singapore Spotlight: Maccine
Pfizer has eight business units in Singapore, including an API manufacturing plant, which, according the Christina Teo, managing
director of Pfizer Singapore, continues to be "one of the key drivers in the pharmaceutical output sector."
Although Singapore cannot compete with most of its neighbors in market size, the country's influx of medical tourists is a
lucrative prospect for MNCs. Pfizer is enhancing their portfolio via tourists seeking specific healthcare services. "Since
foreign patients will continue to drive our specialty care business," Teo says, "we look forward to grow that niche (medical
tourism) and aim to leverage on the foreign patients from countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Middle East or Russia seeking medical
treatments in Singapore," particularly for oncology-related visits.
Pfizer is also tackling the local aging population. Teo hopes that alongside its chronic pain portfolio, Pfizer can "collaborate
to build disease-oriented programs or preventive programs" in order for patients to "take better charge of their health through
disease awareness and support programs."
Singapore Manufacturing Output For Year 2010
Market leader GSK has their regional headquarters (Emerging Markets Asia Pacific division) here, an R&D facility at the Biopolis,
two global manufacturing and supply sites, a Stiefel manufacturing facility (post-acquisition of the company in 2009), as
well as a state-of-the-art vaccines plant.
MSD also has substantial commitments. Singapore houses their regional headquarters and a factory that manufactures for global
operations. MSD's new Hepatitis C product, VICTRELIS, is exclusively produced here. MSD also has a translational research
lab focusing on biomarkers in collaboration with EDB and A*STAR.
Bergstedt says that in addition to the more than USD 2 billion MSD already invested into Singapore, the company has recently
pledged to invest USD 250 million over the next decade.
May Kwai Cheong, VP, Central Asia BD
As this region continues to grow, "within Southeast Asia, the role of Singapore will be key since it is a center of gravity,
under which a lot of companies oversee the regional markets," concludes Muench.
EMERGING MARKETS: NAVIGATING THE PEARL IN THE OYSTER
Let's not be coy. Singapore's population of 5.3 million does not present global companies many opportunities. However, access
to 600+ million in ASEAN clearly does. And although being on site is mandatory for presence in China and India's markets,
some companies still use Singapore as a strategic location to juggle the goliaths. Almost half of the world's population can
be reached from this little red dot on the map.
Asia is far from homogeneous and its market fragmentation has advantages and drawbacks alike.
Jason Peng, VP Global Operations AB Sciex
The growing middle class is increasingly more educated and consumers have greater health awareness. The top tier of the market,
prevalent most in Singapore, Korea and Australia, are increasingly purchasing branded pharmaceuticals. But, the purchasing
power does not come easy; consumers are more selective, thereby creating steeper competition.
In the lower, largely untapped markets (60 to 70 percent) of Asia Pacific (APAC), accessibility is the major hurdle. Plans
by Indonesia and the Philippines to provide universal healthcare by 2014 and 2016 respectively, further muddles the landscape.
But regardless of which market tiers are targeted, most are opting for a bottom-up approach. Companies realize that bulling
through Asia does not work. Instead, strategic planning, flexibility, and reactivity are crucial.
Eitan Konstantino, CEO, TriReme Medical