By Christie Loh
SINGAPORE: Even as the Government injects large doses of resources to grow the life sciences industry, Singapore is apparently not the top choice for the majority of drug firms looking for places to pump their money into.
According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), "China and India head the list of target countries for expansion, with Singapore and South Korea next in the sights of multinational corporations (MNCs)".
This assertion, not backed up by statistics, is based on interviews with 185 executives from MNCs and Asia-started pharmaceutical companies between January and March.
The telephone interviews found that "a-third of MNCs already in the region have plans to immediately expand within the next year, either through their own ‘greenfield’ sites or acquisitions", PwC said in its report released yesterday.
Asia’s domestic drug companies are also looking beyond the walls at home, with 65 per cent of them saying it is important to increase global market share. "The race is very much on between countries to lure international pharmaceutical players to set up base in their respective territories by offering grants, incentives and infrastructure support," said PwC.
For the region’s two emerging giants, price has been the key proposition. "China and India have emerged as major suppliers of several bulk drugs, producing these at lower prices compared to the formulation producers worldwide," the report said.
India houses 85 United States-government approved plants for active product ingredients and formulation — the biggest such number outside America.
In China, major pharmaceutical MNCs are drawn to the nation’s "highly skilled, low-cost workforce and the enormous potential Chinese market".
Said PwC: "By the middle of the century, drug sales in China are forecast to outstrip those in every other region."