Tue, Oct 08, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Pharmaceutical industry could face setbacks in coming five years: expert

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s pharmaceutical industry may face setbacks if certain drugs fail to pass their clinical trials in the next five years, potentially causing investors to pull out their money, Patrick Yang (楊育民), former global head of Roche Pharmaceuticals’ technical operations, said yesterday at a Taipei seminar.

This is because only 10 percent to 13 percent of drugs under development can pass all clinical trials and receive regulatory permits, and even at the phase-three stage of trials, there is still a 30 percent to 40 percent chance for a drug to fail to meet the requirements, Yang said.

“The biochemical industry has improved greatly in the past 10 years as many companies reached certain milestones in developing their drugs, but investors must be aware that a drug could still fail a phase-three clinical trial,” Yang said.

Investors have invested NT$10 billion (US$340.48 million) in local biotechnology and healthcare stocks, but between NT$2 billion to NT$3 billion might be withdrawn by short-term investors, he said.

Investing in biotechnology stocks should be considered a long-term project, he added.

Yang made the statement on the sidelines of Bio Taiwan Commission, a three-day seminar held by the Executive Yuan’s Office of Science and Technology to discuss the strategy of the biomedical industry.

Yang said managers of the Cabinet’s National Development Fund should change their mindset in investing in biotechnological firms.

He said the steering committee operating the fund has expertise in electronics industry, but lacks the knowledge in pharmaceutical industry.

“This committee should not expect to make a profit in under 10 years in the biomedical industry as drug development usually takes a long time,” Yang said.

The Bio Taiwan Commission was yesterday set to discuss whether Taiwan should export its medical services to China and how much the initiative could help local biotechnology industry.

Chang Hong-jen (張鴻仁), chairman and chief executive officer of YFY Biotech Management Co (上騰生技顧問), said he believes it is a great opportunity for Taiwanese biomedical companies to offer services to people in China since there are a lot of new hospitals in that country.

“Our medical management and services have comparative advantage,” Chang said.

However, Soo Whai-jen (蘇懷仁), managing director of Supra Integration and Incubation Center (SIIC), said investing in China might not help the industry to grow.

SIIC is an institute dedicated to promoting the domestic biotechnology industry.

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