Taiwan, although small in size, boasts a strong culture of innovation as well as a universal healthcare system that is the envy of its neighbours. Here, three country managers for pharma multinationals implanted in Taiwan give their first impressions of the market and what recommends it.
NHI: Bringing the Best to Taiwanese Patients
Steve Profit, Novo Nordisk
Even in the smaller clinics around Taiwan, I have seen how ambitious the doctors are in constantly striving to find new ways to enhance the patient experience, not only in diabetes treatment, but also in other areas
For Steve Profit, general manager of Danish diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk, Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) is one of the island nation’s key selling points, allowing patients fast access to new and innovative treatments.
He states, “I have been very impressed by the efficiency of the NHI, with some physicians seeing up to 150 patients with diabetes a day! Even in the smaller clinics around Taiwan, I have seen how ambitious the doctors are in constantly striving to find new ways to enhance the patient experience, not only in diabetes treatment, but also in other areas. The physicians here are well trained and very keen to bring new, innovative treatments to their patients, so this is a great partnering opportunity for Novo Nordisk and physicians to bring the best to patients in Taiwan.”
Profit adds, “From a company portfolio perspective, [Taiwan] is also a highly relevant marketplace, with regionally high rates of type II diabetes mellitus (10.9 percent) and obesity (>20 percent), in adults, not forgetting the commitment to patients treated by our biopharma products.
A Global Leader in Diagnostics
Kit Tang, Roche Diagnostics
In terms of benchmarking for the [diagnostics] industry, Taiwan is in the leading position
Kit Tang, general manager of Roche Diagnostics’ Taiwanese affiliate, acknowledges that while the Taiwanese population and market size is comparatively small within Asia, it has much to recommend it.
He asserts, “The Taiwanese affiliate has been setting many benchmarks in the global development of diagnostics. Furthermore, in terms of benchmarking for the industry, Taiwan is in the leading position. In other words, Taiwan is leading the medical device industry from an alternative perspective.”
Tang continues, “Taiwan has a small population in comparison to other Asian markets, with approximately 23 million people. However, there are several areas that Taiwan is a world leader, such as the government health insurance system. This is a well-recognized healthcare system globally, in terms of coverage, efficiencies and the level of services provided. Over half of the hospitals and clinics in Taiwan are run by private companies, which helps to ensure a patient-centric focus. Furthermore, there has been a great deal of discussion on efficiencies toward technological development. When there is a new global product launch, Taiwan is normally one of the leading markets, particularly in diagnostics.”
Ageing + Innovation
Shuhei Sekiguchi, Janssen
An ageing population and innovation certainly go together
Taiwan’s rapidly ageing population coupled with its welcoming attitude towards innovation is a key point of differentiation for Janssen Taiwan’s managing director, Shuhei Sekiguchi.
As Sekiguchi notes, “An ageing population and innovation certainly go together. The way most people think about an ageing population is the number of people over 65 that are supported by those of working age. This proportion of over 65s is steadily increasing, which means healthcare expenditures will continue to rise as people age. There are multiple areas that we need to be aware of, and one of those areas is that the ageing population require innovation, which I believe is where Janssen can play an important role.”
Sekiguchi is also keen to play up Taiwan’s ability to participate in global clinical trials, and the access that Taiwanese patients therefore have to the latest and most innovative products in the company’s global portfolio. “Taiwan is conducive to attracting R&D investment and the quality of clinical operations, allowing products to be introduced into the Taiwanese market, is high,” he claims. “Therefore, it is a safe place to invest in R&D and healthcare. Moreover, the pharmaceutical products available in Taiwan, generally reflect those that are available in other markets. For example, some of the newest products in haematology, immunology and more recently in HIV, are not only available overseas but can also be accessed in Taiwan. The reason we can offer such a well-represented portfolio is largely due to the ability of our clinical operations to participate in global trials.”