Japan’s Chugai Pharmaceutical, which operates satellite labs throughout Asia, has plans to invest $355 million by 2021, to ramp up and accelerate its research and development (R&D) capabilities in Singapore.
Currently, Chugai operates three satellite labs in Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Dr Hisafumi Okabe, VP and GM of the Research Division at Chugai stated: “A crisis of infectious diseases has been increasing globally. Given this situation, the acceleration of R&D of drugs, creation of innovation leading to revolutionary therapies, and international cooperation in healthcare are becoming urgent issues.”
South Korea and Taiwan have also invested heavily in biomedical sciences, with the pharmaceutical industry, government and academic institutions often collaborating in industry-driven partnerships to create solutions to the healthcare issues facing those countries.
Chugai is known for its strength in developing cancer and arthritis treatments. With a 60 per cent stake owned by Swiss drugmaker Roche, the world’s biggest cancer drugs producer.
Chugai reported a net income of $425 million for FY2014, on revenues of $3.85 billion.
The investment will accelerate the centre’s ongoing projects to develop new therapeutic antibodies to address unmet medical needs, in addition to validating novel antibody engineering technologies currently being developed.
Dr Okabe, who is also the COO of Chugai Pharmabody Research (CPR), has noted that Asia is an attractive growing market. The accumulation of expertise in drug discovery among pharmaceutical associations could also facilitate the countering of issues common to the region, such as geriatric diseases in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, which face ageing populations.
Chugai’s latest multimillion investment will make its Biopolis centre at the One North district one of the largest pharmaceutical research operations in Singapore. Located in Buona Vista, the district hosts some of the world’s top pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare and medical technology firms. These include Abbott, GSK, Novartis and Procter & Gamble.
Dr Okabe said that when CPR set up in 2012 in Singapore, the original plan was to invest about $160 million in five years. The increased investment size was largely due to the Republic’s strong infrastructure for biomedical research. “In fact, with the great support from EDB and A*STAR, CPR was able to commence its operations quite smoothly, which could take longer in other countries.” he added.