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2024 Scrip Asia 100
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2024 Scrip Asia 100

Latest Updates And Considerations In Asia Pacific

The Asia-Pacific region, like the rest of the world, continues to move back to some form of post-pandemic normality – although not everything is going as expected. China was widely forecast to experience a rapid economic rebound following the lifting of its tough COVID restrictions in late 2022, but in reality is recovering more slowly than predicted. The larger challenges making the headlines include weak consumer confidence and spending, high unemployment among younger workers, a simmering property crisis and share sell-offs by foreign investors.

Although the longer-term impact of these factors on the pharma sector is not yet clear, a renewed anti-corruption drive in the health arena has seen many companies rapidly reduce sales and promotion activities. While many foreign pharma firms continue to be concerned about the state of US-China relations, a positive sign is that top-level visits by officials are resuming in a possible signal that geopolitical tensions may be topping out.

Japan, as the largest mature biopharma market in the region, continues along in a less dynamic but predictable fashion, research-based industry concerns there continuing to center on the fine-tuning of the reimbursement pricing system and on continued regular one-off price cuts for fast-selling products. Supply shortages initially stemming from quality concerns continue to plague the generics sector.

While Japan’s top firms already have a well-developed international presence, the focus of South Korea’s industry now seems very much to be on building up a similar global footprint, helped by multiple government-supported programs and steadily rising R&D capabilities for novel drugs. This push for innovation is also reflected in China, which continues to make rapid surges in areas such as antibody-drug conjugates and immune-oncology, with western firms entering multiple licensing deals to access valuable new assets.

India continues to be a global generics powerhouse, but some of the largest companies there remain concerned about pricing pressures in the US. Alongside, there have been investments in new technologies, markets and specialty products, with in some cases a steady build-up in original R&D. More recently, there have been signs that some prominent founding families are considering stepping back as their companies eye the next stage in development.

More broadly, moves to repatriate supply chain links are continuing as a legacy of the pandemic, as does the adoption of remote and digital tools that was accelerated during the toughest challenges of COVID-19.

While we’ve seen no landmark mega M&A deals since last year’s edition, there have been some substantial asset-specific alliances. Takeda’s late 2022 agreement with Nimbus Therapeutics for the Phase II TYK2 inhibitor TAK-279 was the prime example of this, being worth a whopping $4 billion upfront.

This introduction necessarily picks out only some of the key top-line trends and, as always, we hope the carefully curated selection of data, insights and analysis in this year’s Scrip Asia 100, including extensive content from our on-the-ground team, will help you dig deeper into these and other issues to help make sense of this large, diverse and complex part of the pharma world.

Ian Haydock Ian Haydock
Editor-in-Chief, APAC