Singapore ranks fourth in biopharma support

Singapore has been ranked fourth in the world for its support of biopharmaceutical innovation, by an independent think-tank from the United States.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said such support is necessary for the development of new drugs to provide better health outcomes. It said: "More nations must do their share to support biopharmaceutical innovation and not free-ride off the hard work and investment of the leaders."

The report, released yesterday, found that supportive countries "also have some of the most competitive innovation ecosystems".

The top five - the US, Switzerland, Taiwan, Singapore and Sweden - are leading life-sciences innovators, it said. The US, for example, owns the rights to more than half of the world's medicine developed between 1997 and 2012.

Between 1965 and 1992, US government funding enabled the discovery of 15 of the 21 top-grossing drugs, including medicine for depression, Aids and heart surgery.

It said: "Singapore's aggressive push into life sciences has resulted in eight of the top 10 global phamaceutical firms locating their regional headquarters there."

The report looked at the scientific research, drug pricing and intellectual property policies of the 56 markets that comprise close to 90 per cent of the world's economy.

Among developed countries, Australia was flagged as one of five countries that contributed the least, largely due to its strong control of drug prices. The other four were India, South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines.

Dr Benjamin Seet, executive director, Biomedical Research Council, A*Star, said Singapore's investment in this area "has resulted in an exciting innovation ecosystem that comprises public-sector research institutes working alongside corporate laboratories spanning the pharmaceutical, medical technology, nutrition and consumer care industries".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore ranks fourth in biopharma support'. Print Edition | Subscribe