Taiwan has long been a leader in biotechnology research and development. With the government’s emphasis on higher education and research, Taiwan has trained a diverse pool of talent in the scientific and technical fields, which is what is required to drive innovation in multidisciplinary biomedical research. PwC estimated that biotech accounts for 19 percent of the listed companies in Taiwan, compared to respectively seven and six percent of China’s and Hong Kong’s listed companies.
Moreover, Taiwan’s recognized strengths in several industries such as IT, semiconductor, and precision machining allow companies in Taiwan to conduct biomedical research in various fields including drugs, diagnostics, medical devices, medical software, and medical equipment. Such diversity in Taiwan’s biomedical research efforts has been attracting the attention of international investors over the past several years.
Taiwan’s government has launched a comprehensive effort to upgrade the country’s regulatory framework. The first aspect relates to further deregulating the country’s capital and investment sectors, one of Taiwan’s main strengths from an international standpoint. Being able to go public before registering profits has encouraged biotech startups to list early, and Taiwan’s biotech and New Drug Development Act has recently been amended to include more companies. Since the implementation of the act in 2007, the government has supported 140 new drug companies with R&D personnel and activities and tax benefits. At the end of 2018, 120 biotech companies were listed on Taiwan’s stock exchange with a total market value of approximately USD 23.4 billion. Taiwan has truly managed to establish one of the most dynamic biotech financial markets for small biotech and medtech companies outside of the USA.
PharmaBoardroom has chosen to highlight five noteworthy Taiwanese biotech companies that boast commercial success, strong pipelines, and strategic business models.
CEO: Jung Chin Lin, Ph.D.
Therapy area: Neurological and inflammatory diseases
Founded in 2000, Lumosa Therapeutics is dedicated to the development of innovative drugs for the treatment of unmet medical needs in the fields of neurological and inflammatory diseases. Lumosa is actively engaged in scientific licensing and new drug development under a “reSEARCH and DEVELOPMENT” model. Rather that starting from drug discovery, Lumosa searches for candidates with strong scientific rationale and high feasibility of technical success, then develops them into novel therapies.
In 2017, Lumosa’s Naldebain® (LT1001) received market authorization and launched in Taiwan as the world’s first 7-day long-acting analgesic injection for moderate to severe post-operative pain. Lumosa has also entered into licensing agreements for the product with companies such as Skyline Vet Pharma and Amed Co., Ltd. while engaged with Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, LLC for regulatory consulting and strategic development services in the US.
Lumosa Therapeutics became a publicly traded company in the Taipei Exchange (TPEx) in 2015.
Mycenax Biotech Inc
CEO: Pei-Jiun Chen, Ph.D.
Therapy areas: Rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, asthma, Crohn’s disease
Mycenax is focused on biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing of mammalian cells and microbials. Mycenax utilizes single-use technology in its processes and aims to provide cost-effective, rapid and high-quality services with a CMC foundation for CDMOs and in-house pipelines. The biotech’s R&D pipeline is rich in biosimilar candidates and in 2018 Mycenax’s first product TuNEX® (Opinercept) was granted marketing authorization by the TFDA for for the treatment of inflammatory symptoms from rheumatoid arthritis. A clinical study of another indication, ankylosing spondylitis, is currently ongoing in Taiwan.
Mycenax was established in 2001 and issued its initial public offering in 2016.
CEO: KoChung Lin, Ph.D.
Therapy areas: Hematology, infectious diseases, oncology, dermatology
PharmaEssentia was founded in 2003 by a group of Taiwanese-American executives and high-ranking scientists from leading U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to develop treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, hepatitis and other diseases. The company is committed to the improvement of health and quality of life for patients suffering from these diseases.
The company’s world-class cGMP biologics facility in Taichung is certified by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) and is designed and operated to be compliant with all U.S. FDA and EMA requirements. PharmaEssentia leverages a PEGylation technology platform designed to increase a protein drug’s efficacy by prolonging its circulation in the bloodstream.
From the company’s hearty R&D pipeline which spans the therapeutic areas of hematology, infectious disease, oncology, and dermatology, its lead product Ropeginterferon alfa-2b (Besremi) received EMA market authorization in February 2019. PharmaEssentia publicly listed on the Taipei Exchange on 19 July, 2016.
CEO: Philip Kuo-Lung Huang
Therapy areas: Bacterial infection, leukemia, hepatitis C, community acquired pneumonia
Founded in 2001, TaiGen Biotechnology is a research-based and product-driven pharmaceutical company engaging in the development of novel therapeutics for infectious diseases. TaiGen has a wholly-owned Beijing subsidiary with a proven capacity to conduct clinical trials and related registrations. There are 70 employees between the Taipei and Beijing offices, with 80% of its workforce engaging in R&D activities. TaiGen combines drug discovery and development, global regulatory approval and registration, as well as commercialization in China. The company’s pipeline includes internal discovery as well as in-licensing molecules with an emphasis on Asian-prevalent diseases. Most notably, TaiGen has successfully out-licensed Taigexyn®, a pneumonia treatment, to more than 30 countries and is continuing to expand its territory.
TaiGen was listed on the Taiwan OTC Exchange (TWO) on 17 January, 2014.
CEO: James Chang
Therapy areas: HIV/AIDS,
TaiMed Biologics was formed in September 2007 to realize a vision of creating a world-class, innovation-based biotechnology company that can satisfy unmet medical needs of patients around the world. The company is working to develop a strong healthcare product pipeline focused on infectious disease, in particular HIV/AIDS. The company signed an agreement with Genentech for the licensing of Trogarzo® (ibalizumab) shortly after its formation. This drug candidate, also known as TMB-355, is a proprietary
humanized anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, TaiMed Biologics announced this May a deal with Meroven Ltd to sell Trogarzo® in the Middle East and northern Africa.
TaiMed publicly listed on the Taipei Exchange on 23 November, 2015.