In BMI’s Pharmaceutical Environment Ratings (BER) table for Q110, Thailand slipped from ninth to tenth position among the 15 key markets surveyed in the Asia Pacific region. Thailand’s growing and ageing population represents a substantial commercial opportunity for drugmakers, although its controversial compulsory licensing scheme is deterring foreign investment, as is its political instability.
Additionally, the local operating environment is considered to be negative from the point of view of foreign research-based companies, due to a lack of data exclusivity, rife counterfeiting and parallel importation, compounded by the introduction of health economics in the approval of patented drugs.
However, prospects for patent law reform are improving, as a result of Thailand’s involvement in regional harmonisation initiative and the resumption of talks with the US over a free trade agreement (FTA).
Nevertheless – and despite the currently low per capita spending on medicines – Thailand’s pharmaceutical market is expected to perform better than most of its regional peers, as global economic downturn continues to stifle development. The market was worth THB120.4bn (US$3.53bn) in 2008, and is expected to post a year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of 7.67% in local currency terms for 2009. By 2014, the value is projected to have topped THB186bn (US$6.64bn), growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.50% and 11.89% in local currency and US dollar terms, respectively, as the former appreciates against the latter. However, we must caution that there are significant risks to this optimistic forecast, primarily political instability.
In fact, political woes are expected to continue to hamper economic development. Given the depths of the fault lines between the two opposed political camps in Thailand, we expect progress on resolving the situation to be slow. Consequently, we expect gross domestic fixed capital formation growth to average 3.5% for the coming years, as investor sentiment is weighed down by political unrest. As such, we are projecting real GDP growth to average at below-trend 3.2% (a level below Thailand’s potential) over the next decade, which will also weigh down on progress in the field of healthcare modernisation, given the reliance on public funding in this area.
While there were few major industry and company news in the past few months, it has been reported that phase III clinical trials of an HIV vaccine – a prime-boost combination of AIDSVAX B/E, originally developed by VaxGen, and Sanofi Pasteur’s ALVAC HIV – resulted in significant lowering of HIV infection rates. The clinical study, executed by the Thai Ministry of Public Health with assistance from local and US-based researchers, was carried out on over 16,000 adult volunteers in Thailand. The positive results are highly significant, as this is the first time a prophylactic agent has shown efficacy against HIV.
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