4 things putting Asia at the heart of global healthcare

Asia Pacific’s “pharmerging” markets have proven increasingly attractive for investment in drug manufacturing and clinical services
By Scott Allison |

Key takeaways

  • The Asia Pacific region has become a hotbed of activity for life sciences and healthcare (LSH) providers.
  • A growing number of healthcare firms have established local supply chains going directly to patients and hospitals.
  • Despite its growth, the region continues to be relatively cost-effective for LSH firms who can successfully manage their logistics and delivery costs.

The seeds were sown some 15 years ago, when a few pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies began investing in Asia Pacific. Over several years of favorable growth conditions, the Life Sciences and Healthcare (LSH) industry gradually matured across the region, becoming a hosting platform for the majority of LSH key players today.

So what makes Asia Pacific an economic growth vehicle for this industry? Here are the key reasons motivating the world’s LSH companies to expand in this geographical region.

1. The value of a holistic research platform

Asia Pacific is home to countries that propel growth and ignite success. A key example is Singapore. The Singapore government attributes the prosperity of Life Sciences to the city-state’s integrated research ecosystem which enables companies to access multidisciplinary capabilities from a single location. This is particularly critical given the witnessed decrease in R&D productivity, the increased complexity in decision-making, and the urgent need to accelerate drug discovery and development.

2. The attractiveness of “pharmerging” markets

Numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology businesses seek proximity to key markets and wish to expand into new “pharmerging” territories. While companies continue to rely on distributors to gain access into Asia Pacific, an increasing number of customers are adopting a multi-channel approach by considering complementary platforms such as e-commerce, direct-to-patient, and direct-to-hospital solutions to reach their patients.

Low costs and well-supported research clusters have convinced many global life sciences firms to set up substantial operations in Asia.

3. Improved responsiveness

LSH entities are establishing their regional presence in order to shorten their lead times and get closer to customers. Numerous medical device and pharma companies have started setting up their own regional distribution centers, especially in Singapore, many of which showcase value-added and postponement activities.

4. Cost leadership

Lower-cost sourcing and manufacturing are undoubtedly key competitive advantages offered by Asia Pacific, which become even more relevant in the face of rising cost pressure and patent cliffs. LSH companies increasingly capitalize on established generics suppliers in India or China to enter the market, some of them going as far as setting up their own manufacturing facilities in these countries, as well as in Australia and Singapore.

DHL has spent the last 20 years building its LSH logistics capabilities across the region to accompany its customers’ growth. The company covers the full spectrum of LSH activities, from neonatal generics manufacturing in India to aging population healthcare in Japan, while providing valuable access to China’s vast domestic market. Almost all Asia Pacific countries are covered by DHL’s time-definite international express (TDI) network and Life Sciences-qualified DHL Medical Express services, exclusively tailored for the shipment of diagnostics specimens, pharmaceutical products, medical spare parts, and scientific documentation.

More and more consumers are flocking to the Asia Pacific region for the best in medical, life sciences, and healthcare services. As demand grows, it’s up to manufacturers and service providers to keep quality high, even as requirements of their supply chains and delivery models continue to evolve.

A version of this article was originally published on Delivered.

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