Rise of Asian biopharm creates investment targets for Quintiles

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Clinical trial Pharmacology Contract research organization Asia

Quintiles expects to make more investments in Asia-Pacific partnerships as the local biopharm sector grows.

In recent years Quintiles has invested in Asian projects with Eisai and Samsung. The CRO’s (contract research organisation) capital group now has a unit in Asia and is ready to make further investments.

We expect more deals in Asia-Pacific​”, Anand Tharmaratnam, head of Asia markets at Quintiles, told Outsourcing-Pharma. The growth of Asia-based biopharm means there are more and more potential investment opportunities and Quintiles already works with many of these companies.

Tharmaratnam said global biopharm companies accounted for close to 90 per cent of Quintiles’ clients in Asia three years ago. Now the split between local and global biopharm is moving closer to 50-50.

Government support and returnees from the US have driven the rise of ambitious, well-funded Asian biopharm companies. Tharmaratnam said Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in particular are hotbeds of emerging biopharm businesses.

Many of these companies have strong, interesting science but lack drug development experience, such as detailed knowledge of gaining approval in the US and Europe. CROs are looking to fill these knowledge gaps by providing strategic support beyond their core clinical trial services.

To meet these needs Quintiles has invested in consulting capabilities, therapeutic expertise and strategic drug development support in Asia. With these assets in place Quintiles will help local biopharm as they “look to go global​”, Tharmaratnam said.

Earlier this year David Windley, equity analyst at Jefferies & Company, wrote that Quintiles has entered into “some fairly exotic contract structures and strategic relationships​”. In Asia these deals include a risk-sharing relationship with Eisai and a 10 per cent stake in a venture with Samsung.

Global pharma moves

At the same time global pharma are paying more attention to Asia. In the past many companies ran trials in Asia to generate data for US and European regulatory filings but the growth potential of China and India has changed attitudes.

[Asia’s] a must have​”, Tharmaratnam said. The rise of India, China and other Asian countries has caused “quite a dramatic shift​”, Tharmaratnam said, and now clients need the region in their clinical development programmes to open up potentially lucrative markets.

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