Country Report: Singapore - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Country Report: Singapore
The Little Red Dot That Did

Pharmaceutical Executive


AMIDST THE FLUX, SINGAPORE IS A BEACON


Translational research capabilities in Singapore Spotlight: Maccine
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.

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.


Singapore Manufacturing Output For Year 2010
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."

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.


May Kwai Cheong, VP, Central Asia BD
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.

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.


Jason Peng, VP Global Operations AB Sciex
Asia is far from homogeneous and its market fragmentation has advantages and drawbacks alike.

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.


Eitan Konstantino, CEO, TriReme Medical
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.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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