Data released by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) today reveals that the output of the region's entire biomedical manufacturing cluster shrank by 15.3 per cent over October compared to last year. The decline was primarily due to a hefty 19.5 per cent drop in the pharmaceuticals sector, thanks to "a different composition mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients" compared to last year. Although still a considerable drop, the decrease in pharmaceutical manufacturing output was at least an improvement on September's figures, which showed a 37.1 per cent plunge in manufacturing output from the pharma sector compared to last year. However, with the medical technology sector growing an impressive 25.8 per cent over October compared to last year, biomedical manufacturing as a whole has grown 8.7 per cent over the first ten months of 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. The drop in pharmaceutical output, however, negatively impacted growth of Singapore's manufacturing sector as a whole, up just 0.9 per cent in October compared to the same period last year. The EDB also recently surveyed the manufacturing sector regarding its business expectations moving into 2008. 22 per cent of firms in the biomedical cluster expected conditions to improve over the next six month, up on the 10 per cent who expressed this opinion at the close of the second quarter 2007. However, production in the sector is expected to continue to fall over the final quarter of this year, both in pharmaceuticals and the medical technology segment. As such, stocks of raw materials in these segments are set to build up over Q4 as production is delayed. Singapore has established itself as a popular destination for pharma and biopharmaceutical firms, boasting a number of top companies on it shores. Only last month, for example, Novartis announced the largest manufacturing investment in its history, with plans to establish a new $700m biotech facility in the country alongside a recently constructed tableting facility. The aim is for Singapore's biomedical sciences industry to reach S$25bn by 2015, and employment in the sector to increase by almost 50 per cent to 15,000. As the region's reputation as a competitive, highly technological, highly skilled and high quality manufacturing location grows, it is likely to achieve this target as companies continue to invest in a region that offers a cost-effective and supportive environment for their growing biopharmaceutical activities.