Pharmaceutical companies in the Asia Pacific region are increasingly adapting their business models from the
production of generic drugs towards more high-risk, high-return research
and development, according to a new report released today by CMR
International, a Thomson Reuters business.
The changing picture is seen in the first edition of the 2010 Asia Pacific R&D Factbook, which finds increased clinical trial activity, patent challenges, and molecular development in the region.
“Whilst the proportion of global R&D expenditure allocated to Asia Pacific was less than 1 percent in 2009, these trends show a growing focus on these activities,” said Hans Poulsen, head of life sciences consulting at Thomson Reuters.
Global figures for clinical trial recruitment highlight a dramatic shift away from the United States and toward Asia Pacific. In 2002, 53 percent of patients recruited globally were in North America;
in 2008 that figure was down to 32 percent. Asia Pacific saw an
increase from 6 percent to 11 percent over the same period, while Europe showed marginal growth from 14 percent to 17 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of new molecules in development by generic companies, particularly in India, reflects a strong inclination to invest in R&D.
And the number of patent challenges in the region indicates an
increasingly aggressive approach to securing market share. Patent
challenges raised by Indian companies, for example, increased 60 percent
from 2006 to 2009, underlining the shifting business model in the
“The benefits to Asia Pacific in
moving towards increased clinical trials and more drug development are
clear: attracting more investment to the local pharma industry, and
earlier access to innovative medicines for the local population,” Hans Poulsen
said. “It is not clear however, if this trend will be seen as an
opportunity for collaboration, or an increase in competition for
When it comes to clinical development activities in Asia Pac, location matters. The Factbook reports that Thailand is top for patient recruitment and quality, while Malaysia comes last, and Japan is top for regulatory performance while China is bottom.
The information published in the Factbook is based on primary
sources covering major pharmaceutical companies which account for
approximately 80 percent of the industry’s global R&D expenditure.