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Drug Development Research Shows Growth Potential in Asia

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 13 Nov 2012
A strong regulatory framework and high recruitment rates solidly support the Asian clinical research industry--and key pharmaceutical players are now moving beyond simple outsourcing to analyze the region’s own healthcare problems, according to new market research.

The new report, published by healthcare market research company GBI Research (New York, NY, USA), explained that Asia offers a promising environment for pharmaceutical development, because of low costs, a large potential trial population, and regulatory support. Oncology studies, for instance, have now begun to study the Asian phenotype, to understand more about the specifics of cancer.

During 2012, over 12% of global clinical trials were conducted in the seven major markets of Asia, lagging behind the United States’ share of 48.5%, and Europe’s 26.5%. Many Western biopharma companies are beginning to exploit the potential of emerging countries, where Asian regulatory agencies are updating the clinical trial process to meet global demand for inexpensive clinical research, but the vast opportunity in Asia has not yet been fully utilized by the developed markets.

The cost of conducting clinical trials in Asian countries is 35%-45% lower than the cost of conducting similar trials in the US, as they are able to recruit a large number of patients from urban centers easily and at a low cost. The regulatory systems in Asia also offer an encouraging environment, as the adoption of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines and the establishment of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) is helping the region to rapidly progress and incorporate with international standards.

Oncology is a major therapeutic field where the analysis of Asian patients can help pharma companies. The regional population has a high prevalence of liver cancer (due to infections of hepatitis B and C), head and neck cancer, and stomach cancer, therefore companies are focusing on finding and developing drugs specifically to treat Asian diseases. This has developed from an earlier trend of finding use of an approved drug developed for a non-Asian phenotype. The Asia Oncology Strategic Alliance, launched by AstraZeneca (London, UK) in 2007, emphasizes the concentration of pharmaceutical companies centered on the discovery and development of medicines specifically to treat Asian diseases. The alliance’s goal was to assess innovative treatments for liver and stomach cancers in China, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, because the governments of these countries prioritized cancer therapy.

GBI Research estimates that the total market size of China, India, Russia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea’s drug discovery and development markets reached a striking USD 5.3 billion in 2011, following growth at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.9% from 2007. The market is expected to reach USD 17.3 billion in 2018, at a CAGR of 18.4%.

GBI Research is a provider of business intelligence reports, providing data and forecasts based on the expertise of key industry leaders to stay up-to-date with the latest emerging market trends.

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