Asia Rises to Further Prominence in Global Pharmaceutical Market

August 16, 2007
Patricia Van Arnum
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Asia–Pacific is strongly positioning itself in the global pharmaceutical market, according to a recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

New York (Aug. 7)-The Asia–Pacific region is strongly positioning itself in the global pharmaceutical market, according to a recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The region is becoming the largest market in the world for drugs, led by growth in China, India and Singapore. In addition, the Asia–Pacific region is seeing an influx of multinational companies, and its own pharmaceutical companies are strengthening their positions through acquisitions, according to the report, “Gearing up for a Global Gravity Shift: Growth, Risk and Learning in the Asia Pharmaceutical Market.”

“The pendulum for the pharmaceutical industry is shifting from the West to the East,” said Dan Bartholomew, senior managing director of the pharmaceutical and life-sciences practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a release. “This means that if US-based companies want to have part of that market, they are going to need to be present in the region and learn to navigate the risks. It’s not that US-based pharmaceutical companies will leave the states altogether, but they will restructure just as the textile, electronics, and automobile industries have done.”

The report is based on interviews with 185 senior pharmaceutical executives, including 92 Asian companies and 93 multinational companies with operations in nine different territories in the region: China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Key findings from the report are:

  • Among all executives at multinational pharmaceutical companies, nearly six in ten (58%) said they agreed that the center of gravity for the global pharmaceutical market is shifting to the Asia–Pacific region
  • Three quarters of executives from multinational companies surveyed said they are worried about intellectual property rights and legal risks, and they cited concern about intellectual property protections as the biggest reason to consider leaving the Asia-Pacific region
  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of multinational companies and almost eight in ten (79%) of Asia’s domestic companies saw an improvement in intellectual property right protections during the past five years. This improvement resulted mainly from the introduction of new intellectual property laws, a stronger government emphasis on intellectual-property protection, and more rigorous application of existing laws.

Among Asian companies, 65% reported that increased global market share is important for their companies. Thirty-four percent of of Asian-based companies survyed said they are looking to acquire pharmaceutical companies, and 52% said they are seeking to acquire international market share.

At the same time, roughly one third of multinational companies surveyed said they have immediate (12 months) plans to further expand within the region through acquisitions or developing their own newly built sites.

“Looking ahead, the pharmaceutical landscape for both multinational companies and Asian-based domestic companies in Asia will look radically different,” said Bartholomew in a release. “The Big Pharma business model is in transition. Right now, a lot of these companies are still focused on sales and marketing while they outsource other activities. However, there is a dearth of innovation that plagues the pharmaceutical industry, and research and development must become a greater focus.”