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Asian Biopharmaceutical Innovation

Asian Biopharmaceutical Innovation

With chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease on the rise in Asian countries, the possibilities for major pharmaceutical companies are great.  Globally, China will round out the year as the third largest pharmaceutical market, with more than $50 billion in sales.


Multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca employs more than 4,700 in China in different divisions:  marketing, sales, clinical research, and product development.  Earlier in the century, AstraZeneca was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development in Asia; contributing $100 million in investments toward the industry.  Initially, the research contribution was focused on just one area but it has become broader and more elaborate, with its focus shifting to diseases and illnesses more common in Asia.


In many ways, the pharmaceutical industry in Asia is similar to that of markets in the West.  Quality standards, compliance, and regulation are the same.  However, three factors differ from other markets that make it clear that the biopharmaceutical industry is in a unique position for success in Asia:


  • The current market is very positive in regards to growth of the biopharmaceutical market – governments are willing and eager to invest both money and infrastructure and provide talent.
  • The timing for the biopharmaceutical industry to innovate and change how they do business is now – especially in Asia. Companies will have to change the way they do things, particularly with research and development.  Moving operations to Asia forces companies to develop different techniques out of necessity.
  • Limited innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry in China means that companies are moving in with a clean slate. This means that the industry is able to take advantage of the fact that the industry will be innovation driven, making it more effective and efficient than current models in the West.


In order for companies to be successful in Asia, they need to take advantage of the fact that they can leverage what they’ve learned in other countries to improve their processes.  Instead of started from the beginning, biopharmaceutical companies are using their hard-earned knowledge gained from other populations, and applying best practices to the developing Asian industry.  Additionally, research and development in the West has hit what some are calling a standstill.  Companies can take advantage of the unique opportunity for R&D development in Asia, especially focusing on the development of particular diseases including gastric and liver cancer – which are predominant in the East.


Using what has been learned in the West will open up new markets in Asia and hopefully help the biopharmaceutical industry meet the specific medical needs for those countries, while also making strides in innovation.  The scale of innovation in Asia is such that it can offer a marketplace for research and development where success will shine.