Singapore is the first choice of the Biopharmaceutical giants to continue their manufacturing headquarters in the country and will continue to remain “a highly attractive manufacturing base”. The complete support of the Singaporean government to the industries to develop and also the operational risk is minimum, which could be a major reason for the display of the international pharmaceutical companies in the country. Singapore scored 82.2 out of 100 at operational risk environment, higher than the regional average of 53.6, according to BMI’s Operation Risk Index. In the past one decade, Singapore has evolved into a highly attractive hub for the pharmaceutical industry and medical technology this is because the country is providing world-class infrastructure, highly-skilled biomedical workforce and favourable government policy initiatives.
World’s top 30+ pharmaceutical and medical technology firms, such as Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Lonza, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, etc. have established their headquarter, manufacturing and R&D in Singapore just to identify and grasp new strategic business opportunities and accelerate product innovation in Asia. Singaporean pharmaceutical sector is the second highest contributor to the manufacturing output and accounts for 3% to its gross domestic product. Singaporean R&D projects will increase to 250% from 150% to support businesses in developing their own innovations, the tax deduction for labour costs and consumables incurred. The change will be effective from 2019 to 2025 assessment year. The pharmaceutical industry has seen significant changes over the time US $645 million in 2009 to the US $903 million in 2016 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5% and expected to reach the US $1,148 million in 2021 at a CAGR of 5%.
Pharmaceutical Industry Developing Indigenous Manufacturing in Singapore:
In 2017, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has signed in between the big pharma players, such as MSD, Pfizer and GSK and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), a manufacturing initiative, known as Pharma Innovation Program Singapore (PIPS). To advance manufacturing and engineering, the Singaporean government committed to investing US$2.4 billion (SGD$3.2 billion) for its 5-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan in the pharmaceutical market. The PIPS scheme was initiated to develop and continue manufacturing to improve active pharmaceutical ingredients and for exploring biocatalysis technologies to produce high-value complex chemicals more sustainably.
The government is promoting more, the use of generics and is expected to limit the growth in the market. International and domestic companies are going to take advantage of the number of innovation groups in the country. The country is attracting more foreign companies for investments and more than 30 MedTech companies in R&D and also hitting more pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. The local startups and multinational companies are the largest manufacturers and exporters across the world in medical equipment, such as syringes, catheters, research instruments and scientific analytical equipment, etc. Also, other manufacturing products of Singapore are 10% of global contact lenses, 70%+ of the world’s microarrays and 50% of global thermal cyclers and mass spectrometers. Further, Singapore boasts customised medical technology hubs such as MedTech, Biopolis and Tuas biomedical park.
It is a clinical-stage oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company which develops novel therapeutics for global markets. Singapore-based company but also has offices in Taiwan and China. It is partnered with Array BioPharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Almirall and CSL. The company target the disease that is highly prevalent in Asia and orphan indications in Europe and the US. ASLAN‘s portfolio consists of new patient segments, novel immune checkpoints and novel cancer metabolic pathways the four product developed by the company targeting validate growth pathways.
Tianjin Zhongxin Pharmaceutical:
This company is listed at both the SGX and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company produces and sells traditional products of Chinese medicines, western medicines, and health care primarily in China. Globally, many of its high-quality products have been exported to more than 30 countries; it has a nationwide marketing network. Tianjin Zhongxin Pharmaceutical companies’ 85 drugs have been listed in the National Basic Medicine Catalogue, 5 of the products have become state-protected Chinese medicines, 94 product varieties are exclusively produced by the Group and 216 products are now available in the national medical insurance service system.
It is a Singaporean startup which applies Artificial Learning to genomics for drug discovery to make it more efficient. It has also raised US$10 million lead by DHVC and 6 Dimensions Capital, Silicon Valley investors. Engine Biosciences use machine learning to understand genetic interactions which underlie diseases, to help scientist in developing said diseases new drugs to cure. In this technology-based startup, the rate of failure is high and investors hope this technology can help improve the success numbers. The team consists of a group of scientists, who are faculty at some of the premier universities and medical institutions in the United States, such as Harvard, the University of California San Diego, the Mayo Clinic and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Industry:
Singapore’s pharmaceutical industry required more specialised skill sets now to undertake more innovative research projects as it is a leading biomedical hub in Asia. Government is supporting the specialised industry talent in their development by investing heavily in the sector. But still, there is a niche position that is lacking in suitable local manpower. For the future growth of the industry, it is a major challenge to attract and retain highly skilled employees. The challenge is the skills of the local talent pool have not caught up with the demands of companies. The potential loss is one of the biggest challenges for the pharmaceutical industry due to patent expiration. The consequence is these companies have started now investing more resources in replacing old drugs with new ones, investing in R&D.
Opportunities in the Pharmaceutical Industry for Singapore:
International pharmaceutical companies are continuing to leverage the hub status of Singapore to gain access to emerging market opportunities in Asia. Singapore has the required expertise to tackle the challenges faced by the industry, such as developed from the extensive investment put forward by the public and private sector in the country. The country is the hub to connect South East Asia and the Western world as the volume of trade flow for pharmaceutical products is suspiciously huge. Also, it is one of the major re-exporters of the industry.
The pharmaceutical industry of Singapore is regulated by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the Health Products Act 2007 and carry out stringent approvals for cost-effective and efficient medical devices and other medical products. It is consist of all medical devices, pharmaceuticals, medicines and other supplements. More than 35-40% regional share of the pharmaceutical market is recorded to some of the major players of the market. The leading position in the industry is purely dedicated to the Singaporean government authorities as they provide a large number of investments in its research and development capabilities.
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