The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a double-edged sword for Singapore. While its economy has been hit by the global crisis, the island city-state is seeing an uptick in pharmaceutical manufacturing exports to countries looking to stock up on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).


Singapore’s pharmaceutical output has jumped 86 percent so far in 2020 and shipments have increased over 170 percent year over year from April of 2019. The spike in output and exports are giving the economy a boost out of the deepest recession in its history.


Among the top destinations for Singapore’s pharma exports are the US, Europe and Japan. While the economy faces a sharp downturn in sectors such as tourism, experts hope that the boon in pharma production and exports will help to compensate for the decrease. 


As the pandemic rages on around the world, governments and companies are stocking up on active pharmaceutical ingredients to ensure ongoing access to crucial medicines, particularly intensive care drugs such as antibiotics and anaesthesia drugs. According to Pfizer, there has been a strong demand for anti-infectives, which the firm produces in Singapore. 


The pharma industry is an increasingly important contributor to Singapore’s manufacturing industry. Some of the world’s largest pharma companies run manufacturing operations out of Singapore, including Pfizer, GSK, Merck, Novartis, and Sanofi. The country’s biopharma industry accounts for nearly 20 percent of its manufacturing sector, and one-fifth of its GDP.