Biotech is hot in Taiwan, with a number of high profile companies emerging over the past few years with significant market capitalizations on the promise of bold new drugs and the incoming administration of Tsai Ing-wen promising even greater support.
At the AmCham Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical, and Public Health Joint Committee Luncheon on April 19, Dr. Chi Wei-kuang, Director and Distinguished Scientist of Bioengineering Group at the Development Center for Biotechnology (DCB) shared “Taiwan’s vision and current stage in biotech industry.”
Some key takeaways offered by Dr. Chi include:
- Taiwanese firms are involved in both the production of conventional “small molecule” pharmaceuticals as well as the development of cutting edge “large molecule” biological drugs derived from cells
- Taiwan’s biotech firms include Taimed, Medigen, TaiGen, TopoGenomics, TTY Biopharma and many others with a combined market cap of US$23 billion
- Taiwan currently has 96 drugs in the development pipeline, over half of them in Stage 2 clinical trials
The newer field of Biological drugs is seen as offering highest value with lower capital investment and operating costs, where key areas for drug development include oncology, central nervous system (CNS) disease, infectious disease, and inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Since the early 1980s Taiwan’s government has been offering support to the biotech industry through a number of policies and organizations, but major funding for the industry only occurred over the last 5-6 years.
Key policies to watch for the Taiwan Biotech Industry:
- Statute for the Development of Biotech New Drug Industry
- Biotech Industry Takeoff Action Plan
- Diamond Action Plan for Biotech Takeoff
Key organizations involved in the industry’s advancement
- Development Center for Biotechnology (DCB)
- Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA)
- Biomedical Engineering Research Center (ITRI)
Funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan’s DCB offers support bridging the gap between primary research and drug commercialization. The National Research Program for Biopharmaceuticals will expire in 2016, but will be replaced by the BioEconomy Plan.
Taiwanese biotech firms, though small, are highly innovative and are actively collaborating with foreign firms for advanced clinical trials and drug development. Continued government support is vital for the industry to fulfill its vision.