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Health Minister Addresses Luncheon Meeting

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung addressed a range of topics related to healthcare policy in Taiwan in his remarks at an AmCham Taipei luncheon meeting at the Sherwood Taipei on July 19. The event was jointly sponsored by the Chamber’s Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, and Public Health Committees.

In his speech, Minister Chen stressed the government’s efforts to strengthen and expand long-term care services for Taiwan’s rapidly aging population, including programs to train more personnel to help care for the elderly and to provide those specialists with better salaries. The objective is to ensure that the aged can live in as much comfort and dignity as possible. He also covered the need for increased emphasis on prevention through vaccination and other means, efforts to reduce doctor-patient disputes through malpractice insurance and no-fault compensation, and the progress achieved in drafting new medical device legislation.

During Q&A, he praised the role of multinational companies in helping to raise standards in healthcare industries and expressed the Ministry’s openness to evaluating how additional forms of therapy, such as chiropractic, can contribute to the health and well-being of the population. Chen said that no single specialty ever has all the answers. Noting that “cooperation is the root of success,” he said he is always willing to listen to other people’s point of view.

Before the luncheon, the Minister met with leaders of the three sponsoring committees. Among the topics discussed were government policy on new-drug funding and procedures for assessing new medical-device technologies. Accompanying the Minister were Director General Lee Po-Chang of the National Health Insurance Administration and Director General Wu Shou-Mei of Taiwan’s Food & Drug Administration.

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Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation. 

Data Visualization in Health Care Seminar

Understanding how to clearly present data is an indispensable skill for today’s medical professionals. On June 19, AmCham Taipei’s Pharmaceuticals & Public Health Joint Committee was grateful to host Ms. Katia Santome, Solution Designer of Z&A Knowledge Solutions for a seminar workshop on transforming complicated medical information into simple, clear, and valuable insight.

With attendees representing various firms from across Taiwan, participants learned to structure and visualize information using a step-by-step ideation process.

Ms. Katia Santome, an expert on information design and data visualization, encouraged participants to think about the broader message behind the data that we are intending to share. “This allows for greater intentionality around the visual we create, helping us to be both consistent and clear with our message,” she said. After deciding on a concrete idea, the presenter should focus on which details to share. This allows for intentional categorizing of ideas, which will help to make the information presented easier to understand. Thirdly, it is important to arrange key details by time, quantity, category or preference, so that the audience can convey concepts in a more simplistic way. Finally, Ms. Santome encouraged participants to focus on the structure of the data that will best demonstrate the relationship between the details. For example, while maps, charts, diagrams, or tables can convey the exact same information, these different data structures give the presentation a completely different feel.

Especially in the medical industry, professionals are tasked with condensing extremely complex and nuanced information into easily digestible concepts for presentation to students and patients alike. Ms. Santome guided participants through group discussions regarding how to make information more accessible and digestible. “Using simple processes, we can successfully condense difficult ideas into easy to understand visuals,” she noted. Ms. Santome left attendees with the following take-home messages:

  • Structure your thoughts: Make sure to get your thoughts and ideas on paper before you begin creating a visualization. Not only will this give your message consistency, but it will help save time when using digital software to create visuals.
  • Remove noise: By using icons, images, and other visual guides instead of text, participants learned how to cut down extraneous information in order to hone readers’ attention on the details that really matter. Removing text, grid-lines, and emphasizing key elements are all great ways to improve the clarity of one’s message.
  • Be creative: Only by thinking outside of the box can we fully re-structure information in meaningful ways for our audience. Using color and animation can truly elevate a presentation, making even the most complicated statistics accessible to everyone.

“Make sure you think through your ideas before you start!” Santome encouraged the audience. “Otherwise, your presentation will appear messy and inconsistent. It’s best to be intentional about how you use data visualizations”.

Feedback on the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. “This was the most practical workshop in the medical field I have attended in my entire life,” commented one participant upon the workshop’s conclusion. “The takeaways are extremely applicable — I learned so much in such a short space of time!”

Promoting Taiwan as a Liver Health Center of Excellence

Republic of China Vice President Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist with a background in researching hepatitis B, was the keynote speaker at the Taiwan Liver Health Forum sponsored by AmCham Taipei together with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The event, held at the Howard-Plaza Hotel on October 3, was attended by 90-some guests from government, the medical community, and industry.

The idea for the forum grew out of a suggestion by AmCham Taipei’s Public Health Committee in the 2018 Taiwan White Paper that Taiwan strive to become the “Liver Health Center of Excellence in Asia.” Participants in the forum confirmed the validity of that goal, citing Taiwan’s pioneering work in past decades in controlling hepatitis B through vaccination and the government’s progress toward eradicating hepatitis C in the coming decade in line with World Health Organization objectives.

Hepatitis is endemic in this part of the world, and is considered a major health risk because it often leads to liver cancer. Among the points made by speakers at the forum were the importance of increasing the amount of screening conducted in Taiwan for hepatitis C. Although the effort would lead to higher healthcare expenditures in the near term, in the long-run it will substantially save costs due to reduced hospitalization and mortality, as well as heightened productivity.

Speakers also called for further expansion of clinical trials in Taiwan, more public education to raise awareness regarding liver health, and workplace programs to encourage more screening.

Opening remarks at the forum were delivered by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen and MOHW Deputy Minister Ho Chi-kung. In his half-hour keynote address, Vice President used a PowerPoint presentation to brief the audience on Taiwan’s past successes in combating liver disease. Other speakers were Dr. Kao Jia-horng, president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver; Dr. Pwu Raoh-fang, director of the MOHW National Hepatitis C Program Office; Dr. Homie Razavi, managing director of the U.S. Center for Disease Analysis; and Dr. Chiu Chang-fang, vice president of China Medical University Hospital.

Two panel discussions were moderated by Ramanathan Velayutham, Taiwan general manager for AbbVie Biopharmaceutical, and Pang Lai-li, Taiwan managing director for Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), respectively. Aside from the speakers, the panelists included Dr. Lee Po-chang, director-general of the National Health Insurance Administration; and Bristol-Myers Squibb General Manager Sophia Lee. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman gave closing remarks.

Platinum sponsors for the event were Abbvie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead Sciences. MSD was a silver sponsor.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

New Horizon in Liver Disease Management: Taiwan’s Experience

For many years liver disorders have been seen as Taiwan’s national disease. As a result, liver disease management has been identified as the government’s top public health priority. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the two key risk factors for liver cancer. How can the government, physicians, public health experts and the pharmaceutical industry work together even more closely to decrease liver disease in Taiwan?

At a November 7 luncheon presentation sponsored by AmCham Taipei’s Public Health Committee at the Regent Taipei, Dr. Chen Ding-Shinn, an Academician of Academic Sinica, and Dr. Pwu Raoh-Fang, Director of the National Hepatitis C Program Office under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, shared their experiences on liver disease management.

From left to right: AmCham Public Health Committee Co-Chair Joyce Lee, General Manager, Bristol-Myers Squibb (Taiwan) Ltd.; Speaker Dr. Pwu Raoh-Fang Director of the National Hepatitis C Program Office, Ministry of Health and Welfare; Speaker Dr. Chen Ding-Shinna, an Academician of Academic Sinica; and AmCham Taipei President Andrea Wu

Dr. Chen introduced Taiwan’s Viral Hepatitis Control Program that was implemented in the 1980s and explained factors that contributed to the success of the program. But educational programs designed to inform citizens of the importance of vaccinations and treatments are not enough, said Chen. He noted that several challenges remain, as the prevalence of liver disease is still on the rise:

  • Most people who contract HBC or HCV infections are unaware that they are infected
  • Many with known chronic infections are reluctant or refuse to receive treatment
  • Reimbursement of medical treatments is not ideal
  • The screening of HBV/HCV infection is still inadequate
  • Existing data on subjects who have previously been screened for HBsAg (also known as the Australia antigen) /anti-HCV is not well-utilized
  • The number of physicians participating in the treatment program is still inadequate

Following Chen’s presentation, Dr. Pwu provided an overview on how Taiwan will meet the ambitious target of the World Health Organization (WHO) for ending viral hepatitis. He identified two key strategies for achieving this goal: 1) setting a target number of patients to be treated, and 2) aligning with the WHO and improving cross-department collaboration. In closing, Pwu reminded the audience that Taiwan has both the ambition and ability to become a world leader in hepatitis elimination by 2030. It will take both passion and wisdom to achieve this goal, however.

Interested in attending our events? Join us at other upcoming events, click here.

Note: AmCham events are intended primarily for AmCham members and their guests. Many events are open to members’ guests and other non-members, but the attendance of any non-member must be approved in advance. AmCham reserves the right not to admit a non-member to any event without explanation.

Taiwan Biotech Industry Heats Up

amcham-taipei-biotech-luncheon-cover

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
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Dr. Chi Wei-kuang presents the Taiwan biotech industry’s “Diamond Action Plan” to AmCham Taipei leaders.

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.

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AmCham Taipei Vice Chairwoman Libby Driscoll (left) and Chairman Dan Silver (right) present Chi Wei-kuang with a token of appreciation following his presentation.

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