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Welcome to Scrip Asia 100

 

Capturing the vitality and diversity of the Asian pharma sector in a few hundred words is close to impossible, but we hope that the breadth and depth of content for the Scrip Asia 100 this year will give readers a sense of both these attributes.

Our corporate rankings illustrate the steady emergence of companies in China in sheer size terms but also R&D spending. More are shifting towards in-house innovative research in the pursuit of competitive advantages at home and abroad - something shared on a smaller scale with their counterparts in South Korea, already a global powerhouse in biosimilars, helped by manufacturing economies of scale.

While the emergence of Hong Kong as a new regional hub for biotech listings is being helped by relaxed rules for pre-revenue firms, it remains too early to judge success, and the first companies floating there have seen mixed share performances, amid some predictions that Nasdaq in the US will remain the pre-eminent bourse for the sector.

Therapeutically, oncology clearly remains the dominant theme, driven by approvals of multinationals’ new therapies across the region, and increasing home-grown research in the field in the major markets.

But continued pricing pressures in Japan, driven by a healthcare-consuming ageing population, and higher-priced new therapies, mean higher hurdles for the granting of premium prices, an outlook reflected elsewhere as countries look to balance access and affordability. With the roll-out of the massive “Modicare” health scheme, India will face similar issues.

The past year has also been marked by massive regulatory activity in China, as new bodies and regulations are formed and new drug development encouraged, and Korea has taken steps to increase clinical development and accounting transparency.

On the business side, intra-Asian connectedness between companies remains nascent but growing as regional markets create new opportunities and firms look to plug pipeline, technology and product gaps – further escalation of the US-China tariff war may well catalyse such moves.

Against a background of multiple regulatory moves to support rare disease, orphan and regenerative medicines, if there is one over-riding message to distill, it is that innovation – and the demonstration of the value of this, to both patients and healthcare systems – has never been more critical.

Ian Haydock
Editor in Chief
Asia Pacific

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