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Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Overview - Singapore


Despite its developed nature, Singapore's pharmaceutical market has limited growth potential when compared to other similarly developed countries in the region, mostly due to its small size. At some 80% of the total market by value, prescription drugs dominate, with the segment expected to remain prominent in the future due to the support of private sector prescribing habits. Branded drugs, which presently represent over four-fifths, will continue to dwarf generics in terms of value as demand for novel and lifestyle drugs increases, but the sector stands to lose some market share in the coming years. Imports will also increase over time, but the balance is likely to shift in favour of exports, which will surpass local demand for foreign-made products. Output will be boosted by overseas demand, the growing number of alliances between local and foreign manufacturers as well as home-grown initiatives for the sector, such as the Biopolis Centre and the favourable economic environment.

Business Monitor International expects growth in the domestic pharmaceutical market to be 4.5% in 2006. Market value is likely to exceed US$0.66bn in by 2010, up from US$0.53bn in 2005, boosted by changing demographics and rising healthcare spending. Market growth will also be supported by the pending consolidation of guidelines on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, traditional medicines and health supplements. In particular, stakeholders dealing with patent and data exclusivity protection - which had been complicated by the Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement signed in 2003 - will benefit from the expected changes.


In regional terms, Singapore will fail to perform as well as some other neighbouring markets, such as Malaysia. While presently on hold, the proposals to contain pharmaceutical expenditure through a variety of measures (such as the encouragement of parallel imports, the introduction of direct price cuts and the attempt to create greater collaboration between the public and private sectors) continue to pose a threat to the branded sector in particular. However, BMI's adjusted Business Environment Rankings for Asia place Singapore in the fourth place, given its excellent regulatory regime and economic and political outlook.

Most domestic-sector activity continues to be recorded in the field of biotechnology and life sciences, as pharmaceutical manufacturing remains dominated by multinationals. Foreign companies are expected to remain active in research and development (R&D), boosted by the government programme to have at least 10 multinational production facilities in the country by 2010, which will further benefit the export balance.

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