Novartis, the world's third-largest pharmaceutical firm, is interested in expanding cooperation with Taiwan in bio- and medical technologies, an official with the Swiss company said yesterday.
Paul Herrling, head of corporate research at Novartis International, told CNA that Taiwan has bio- and medical research specialists of the highest caliber and advanced medical facilities, making it one of the best candidates in the Asia-Pacific region for a partnership.
Herrling, who visited Taiwan last September during the 2005 Novartis International Biotechnology Leadership Camp, said that in addition to pharmaceutical services, clinical research and testing, there is ample room for Novartis and Taiwan to expand and deepen research ties.
He said that on top of running a clinical research center in Taiwan, the Swiss drugmaker is planning a symposium to discuss the possibility of closer research ties.
Herrling said he would lead a 10-member delegation for the symposium scheduled for April, during which Novartis scientists and researchers are expected to meet specialists from Academia Sinica, the nation's top research institute, for a series of brainstorming sessions on neuroscience and developments in brain research and related medicine.
The Novartis Clinical Research Center in Taiwan, established in October 2004, is the second facility of its kind in Asia, following the opening of a center in Japan. A total of 26 types of new or "pipeline drugs" -- for cancer, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis and chronic pneumonia -- are being researched or are under development at the center.
The government's plan to make Taiwan an "island of biomedical research and development" was one factor that attracted Novartis and other pharmaceutical firms.
Herrling said Taiwan was an ideal place for testing and experiments because of its research personnel, world-class medical institutions, an adequate supply of patients, ethnic diversity and the fact that medical records are in English.
However, Herrling warned that other factors -- such as infrastructure development, laws, protection of intellectual property and cross-strait relations -- are important in determining if development of biomedical technologies and international cooperation will succeed.