Asian market offers big opportunities for vaccine producers
An increase in pandemics such as SARS and swine flu coupled with new government strategies aimed at reducing reliance on imports, are just two reasons why vaccine production in the Asian market is set to grow significantly in the coming years, according to Austin Lock of PM Group, a global leader in biopharma process design and engineering project management.
The global vaccine market is currently growing at approximately 10% per annum and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, according to the latest findings from leading market research company Kalorama in its report “Vaccines 2010: World Market Analysis, Key Players and Critical Trends in a fast changing industry”. While there has been a large increase in the number of vaccine production facilities being constructed, expanded or refurbished worldwide, growth has been particularly strong in Asia where the main global players (Merck, Novartis, Sanofi-Pasteur, GSK and Pfizer) have all made significant investments in key locations over the past few years. In addition to the big five multinationals, the Asian market is also served by a growing pool of local manufacturers including HLL Lifecare Ltd. and Serum Institute in India and Hunan Biopharmaceutical and Sinovac in China, many of which are backed by large local government funding.
There are a number of key factors driving growth in the Asian market. First is a concerted government push to reduce the region’s reliance on foreign imports, particularly in the fight against pandemics. Second is the fact that Asia is a large self-sustaining local market which is now also capable of providing high quality, competitively-priced exports to other countries outside the region. This has encouraged various governments to invest in new facilities and offer greater reimbursements to essential vaccine manufacturers. The third factor is ongoing high level funding by philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which, amongst other things, provides significant support to biopharma companies in the region to develop and supply vaccines for specific diseases that are not as well served by the developed world.
Whilst the current situation offers undoubted opportunity for biopharma producers worldwide to invest in the Asian market, there are a number of critical issues to consider.
Chief among these is differing national legislation and the move towards disposable single-use technology solutions, both of which have significant facility and process design implications. The permitted use of adjuvant and polysaccharide-protein conjugation in certain countries is another issue impacting plant and process design. Adjuvants and polysaccharide-protein conjugations are added to vaccines to boost immune response, thereby reducing dosage requirements.
There is no doubt that Asia looks set to play a key role on the global biopharma stage for many years to come. As national regulations throughout the region continue to improve, driven on in part at least by the prospect of WHO certification and potential access to export markets, there will be significant opportunity for international organizations, particularly those with strong regulatory backgrounds, as local manufacturers will look to develop strategic partnerships with companies that can help them achieve regulatory compliance as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.
Contact Seamus Kelly
Biopharmaceuticals Sector Director
T: + 353 21 435 8922
GSK Biologicals Vaccine Manufacturing