“The growth potential of Asia’s pharmaceutical markets is astounding,” so says a 2018 report by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit.
The figures for Japan and South Korea bear this out. For example, Japan is the third-largest pharmaceutical market by sales ($90bn), the second-fastest-growing biologics sector globally and in the six years to 2018 its percentage of revenue from overseas sales jumped from 39% to 49%.
Meanwhile, South Korea was placed at the top of the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation index, it has 900 new medicines under development and will soon have more than 1 million liters of annual production capacity, making it the world’s largest biopharmaceutical production base.
Sustaining this growth needs an international outlook and a grasp of global regulatory requirements, operating standards and best practice. This is where BioPhorum comes in, and is why a senior team recently traveled to Asia to meet with our growing number of members in the area and illustrate how we can help prospective members.
A roundtable discussion on technology adoption
The trip was extremely busy and productive. It included giving presentations at a symposium hosted by The Foundation for Biomedical Research and Innovation at Kobe, one in Tokyo hosted by Link-J Life Science Innovation Network Japan, the BioJapan conference in Yokohama and a convention in Seoul hosted by the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association.
These conferences helped BioPhorum build its profile and culminated in a successful Showcase event in Tokyo, which was kindly hosted by member company FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies. As well as a discussion on the drivers and trends shaping development and manufacturing supply chains, there were sessions on Japan’s critical role in the global industry and how close partnerships can benefit both parties in a license-holder/contract manufacturer relationship.
But while the Asian growth figures are impressive, many companies realize that to achieve a greater profile on the global stage, they need to reach out to their peers. They understand that these connections will allow them to collaborate and accelerate their progress even more, and there was lots of interest in how BioPhorum can help them do this.
It was also apparent that South Korea has some slightly different drivers, e.g. much of its biopharmaceutical activity is through contract manufacturers. BioPhorum continues to provide focus in this area, as seen in its successful CMO Summit in November 2019. This gave industry leaders and subject-matter experts the opportunity to share experiences and mutual challenges in the increasingly important topic of license-holder-CMO data exchange.
Prospective members were very interested in BioPhorum’s collaborative approach and a couple of areas particularly resonated, especially with Japanese attendees. The first was the work of the Cell & Gene Therapy Phorum because, with its aging population, Japan has a strong focus on regenerative medicine.
The second area was technology adoption and there was a healthy discussion after the presentation on the BioPhorum Technology Roadmap and its links with other Phorums. We were encouraged by the active participation and energy in all of these peer-to-peer discussions.
After the Showcase, planning continued for the BioPhorum 2020 event, which takes place in Tokyo in May. Look out for more details of this event in future newsletters.
The trip demonstrated why it is vital for us all to take an international perspective. Not only can Asian members hook into the huge BioPhorum knowledge base, connect with their European and US peers, influence BioPhorum’s work and have a global voice in the industry; but, crucially, we can all learn from countries in Asia who can bring their intelligence, creativity and innovation to the table.
The BioPhorum approach of “Connect, Collaborate and Accelerate” has never been more relevant.