Updated on 24 May 2012
The medtech industry is set to grow with more focus on efficient and cheaper devices
An ideal location to enter the huge China market and other markets of Asia Pacific region, is Taiwan which is poised for good growth in the bioscience industry. The country is expected to play a significant role in the global medical appliances market at a time when there is a lot of focus on devising more efficient and low cost healthcare diagnostics and medical equipment. The Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan is helping the domestic medical instruments industry to develop products through various initiatives. Also, with the global market in a flux, there will be more opportunities for local companies in Taiwan to cooperate with multinational companies looking to expand their base in Asia Pacific.
Taiwan is finding new avenues to boost the healthcare sector, including healthcare tourism. According to Taiwan's statistical yearbook, there are 1.91 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, which is more than the per capita number of doctors in China (1.47 per 1,000 inhabitants). BMI says the country is likely to ease restrictions to facilitate the sector.
The pharmaceutical market is likely to be affected by price control measures of the government with increasing stress on affordable healthcare. Drug prices in Taiwan are adjusted every two years. The seventh adjustment was made in December 2011, which was not approved by many pharmaceutical companies. The Bureau of National Health Insurance has also now agreed to establish a group to re-evaluate the price fixed for some irreplaceable, exceptionally expensive drugs.
The government is making efforts to promote generics drug development. In May 2011, it was revealed the government has given $7.67 million (NT$220 million) in subsidies to six local drug companies, which accounts for about 33 percent of their total research and development (R&D) spending. The subsidy program was started in 2010 to enable generic drug makers to increase overall production from ($1 billion (NT$30 billion) a year to $1.4 billion (NT$40 billion) and to allow them to increase global footprint and enhance their international competitiveness.
The government remains committed to the development of the biotechnology industry. The authorities are aiming to make the biotech industry one of their priority sectors for attracting foreign investment, to increase the annual output value of the industry to more than $30.86 billion (NT$1 trillion) in four years. The government envisages an increase in the R&D contribution in the field of biotechnology to some three percent of GDP by 2014. The government's "Diamond Action Plan for Biotech Takeoff" programme aims to double the annual output of the country's biotechnology industry by 2013.
The government has been pushing for the growth of the biotechnology industry by investing heavily in biotechnology research capability and this has helped to encourage growth in the biologics sector. As an initiative, the government has opened a Supra Integration and Incubation Centre (Si2C) which provides support for pharmaceutical companies to develop biologic drugs. The Si2C was set up at an estimated cost of $1.27 billion (NT$38.5 billion) for identifying new and profitable drugs and equipment with value for future and to facilitate their entry into the market. The center has relaxed rules for establishment of biotech venture funds and is recruiting talent from overseas. The biotech venture capital fund known as Taiwan Medtech Fund (TMF) was set up to focus on medical equipment and boost local companies. Dr Ellson Chen, CEO of Vita Genomics, which is a domestic company focusing on pharmacogenomics research, in vitro diagnosis product development, and specialty contract research services, is of the opinion that the TMF will bring unique opportunities to upgrade local medical device caliber. "Many IT manufacturers are looking to expand their product application to medical devices. Collaboration with TMF could potentially speed up the process," he said.