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Singapore To Invest USD 60 Million In Cell Therapy Manufacturing

MEDICAL - Singapore
April 2019

At the 11th Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) Meeting of the Singapore government on 27 March, it was announced that Singapore will invest SGD 80 million (USD 60 million) to develop core capabilities required for cell therapy manufacturing. 

In cell therapy intact living cells are injected into a patient to derive a therapeutic effect such as restoring tissue or organ function, or fighting cancer. The industry has seen accelerated growth over the past few years led by recent launches of cell therapy products. However, cell therapy manufacturing remains challenging due to the complex process and lack of suitable manufacturing technologies. The key challenges are: 1) Scalability in terms of generating sufficient quantities of cells for therapy; 2) Characterisation and quality control of cell-based products and identication and  measurement of safety and efficacy attributes; and 3) Improving process efficiencies to reduce manual processes and increase reproducibility.

Building on Singapore's existing strengths as a pharmaceutical manufacturing centre, capabilities developed by public sector researchers and clinical translation and clinical trials in different diseases, three cell therapy manufacturing R&D programmes are being established, bring together multi-disciplinary teams across nine public-sector research centers including A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), Institutes of Higher Learning, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and hospitals. The three programs are: 

  1. Scalable Autologous Clinical Cell Manufacturing Platform: Aims to develop a commercially scalable platform for autologous cell therapy across healthcare clusters in Singapore by identifying and addressing bottlenecks in the entire autologous (using cell or tissues obtained from the same individual) cell therapy manufacturing process.
  2. Biological Quality Determinants for Allogeneic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Manufacturing: Aims to transform allogeneic (cells or tissues from a genetically similar, but not identical donor) cellular therapy and establish therapeutically-potent mesenchymal stem cells (these can differentiate into several types of cells belonging to our skeletal tissues, such as cartilage, bone and fat) for clinical translation by integrating new manufacturing technology within Singapore to address donor selection and optimal culture conditions.
  3. Critical Analytics for Manufacturing of Personalised Medicine Programme: Aims to develop technology that will enable safe, effective and cost-efficient manufacturing of biological cells for use in personalised medicine for human health impact.

The press release from the Nation Research Foundation highlights that in recent years, there has been an exponential growth of local cell therapy biotechs. This includes companies developing immune cells therapies such as Tessa Therapeutics, Lion TCR, MediSix Therapeutics), companies developing stem cells and derived products as therapies such as CellResearch Corp, Paracrine Therapeutics, Celligenics, and Contract development and manufacturing organisations such as CellVec, Esco Aster. The cell therapy manufacturing R&D programmes will support these local biotechnology companies and also multi-national companies in (1) cell therapy asset development, and (2) cell manufacturing related processes, with the ultimate goal of anchoring R&D and manufacturing activities from these companies in Singapore.

(Source: National Research Foundation, Singapore; Straits Times)

Singapore And UK Telemedicine Companies Enter Into Partnership

MEDICAL - Singapore
March 2019

Singapore-based telemedicine service provider, MyDoc, entered into a partnership with UK-based digital healthcare firm, Synergix Health, to jointly offer telemedicine services across Europe and Asia. Synergix and MyDoc plan to provide online and in-person medical advice to a combined user base of close to 500 corporate clients, through the integration of their digital platforms and patient networks. Users will be able to experience coordinated management of their health conditions, order repeat prescriptions, and connect to licensed clinicians. They will have 24 hour access to services in several languages including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Bahasa and Hindi. 

MyDoc provides a fully integrated online-to-offline platform streamlining all aspects of primary healthcare into one easy-to-use solution connecting patients to doctors, pharmacies, diagnostic laboratories, clinical-grade health trackers, Fortune 500 and SME employers, and insurers. Its strategic partners in the region include global insurers Aetna, AIA and Cigna, the region’s network of healthcare providers like Fullerton, MHC, IHP and Acumed, leading regional pharmacy chains like Guardian Pharmacy and technology partner, Omron.

Similarly, Synergix provides a complete and integrated virtual and in-person healthcare system and works with business partners such as insurers, retailers and health providers.

(Sources: Business Times;


Singapore Expands Healthcare Subsidies For Elderly

MEDICAL - Singapore
February 2019

The Singapore government is expanding healthcare support for elderly born between 1950 and 1959, dubbed the Merdeka Generation (MG) or those who were born prior to 1950 but did not receive the Pioneer Generation Package launched previously in 2014. All beneficiaries should have become Singapore citizens by 1996. Some of the measures are as below:

  1. The government will provide a MediSave top-up of SGD 200 (USD 148)  per year for five years. This will start from this year until 2023. MediSave is a national medical savings scheme. 
  2.  MG seniors will receive additional subsidies for outpatient care, for life.
    • They will receive special Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies, for common illnesses, chronic conditions, and dental procedures. The subsidy rates will be higher than the CHAS Blue subsidies. All MG seniors will receive these enhanced subsidies, regardless of income, including those who do not have a CHAS card today. CHAS enables Singapore Citizens from lower- to middle-income households, and all Pioneers, to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at participating General Practitioners (GP) and dental clinics near their home)
    • At polyclinics and public Specialist Outpatient Clinics, they will receive 25% off their subsidised bills. This is on top of the prevailing subsidies available
  3.  MG seniors will have additional MediShield Life premium subsidies, for life. All MG seniors will receive subsidies for their premiums, starting from 5% of their MediShield Life premiums, and increasing to 10% after they reach 75 years of age. This is on top of the means-tested subsidies that lower- to middle-income Singaporeans are already receiving. MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan, administered by the Central Provident Fund Board, which helps to pay for large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments, such as dialysis and chemotherapy for cancer
  4. The government will provide an additional participation incentive of SGD 1,500 (USD 1,110) for MG seniors who join CareShield Life, when it becomes available for existing cohorts in 2021. CareShield Life is a national long-term care insurance scheme designed to provide basic protection against long-term care costs, from 2020. It was introduced in 2018 as an enhanced version of the earlier ElderShield scheme. In addition to the SGD 2,500 (USD 1,850) previously announced, this means that all MG seniors who join CareShield Life will receive participation incentives totalling SGD 4,000 (USD 2,963) each. This will cover a significant portion of their premiums, and is on top of the regular means-tested premium subsidies.

(Sources: Singapore Government; Channel NewsAsia)

Singapore-Based Digital Healthcare Company Partners With AIA

MEDICAL - Singapore
January 2019

Singapore-based digital managed care platform MyDoc is partnering with global insurance company, AIA, to create its first digitally integrated corporate health screening programme. MyDoc will digitally deliver health screening results of AIA Vitality members in Singapore from the AIA Vitality Basic Health Check (BHS) identifies members’ risk for chronic disease by checking their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. AIA Vitality members who complete their health screening through MyDoc will receive Vitality points of up to 6,000 if their results are within the healthy ranges.

MyDoc is part of Singapore’s Ministry of Health's (MOH) regulatory sandbox for telemedicine, that allows the safe development of new and innovative healthcare models to be piloted in a controlled environment.. MyDoc has shown a reduction in patient healthcare costs by at least 16% according to a study done by a senior economist at the University of Southern California’s Center for Economic and Social Research. It demonstrated a potential cost saving of up to 28% resulting from improvements in chronic diseases management and aversion of accident and emergency (A&E) services.

MyDoc has conducted successful and ongoing implementations with the largest insurers and Fortune 500 companies in In Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, including AIA, Aetna, and Cigna. 

(Source: MyDoc; Enterprise Innovation)


Singapore Sets Up Multi-Agency Taskforce To Transform Health Promotion

MEDICAL - Singapore
November 2018

The Singapore government has set up a new multi-agency taskforce led by Senior Parliamentary Secretaries from various Ministries has been appointed by the Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, to drive the national transformation of Singapore’s health promotion landscape and nurture a healthier population. The taskforce will synergise and coordinate efforts towards this objective across public agencies including the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the Community Development Council.

The taskforce aims to establish an integrated approach towards ways in which health can be infused into Singaporeans’ lives through three key thrusts – or three ‘E’s: 
               a. Changes to our lived Environment;
               b. Empowerment of individuals through technology; and
               c. Engagement of our communities with better service delivery and ground programming.

The Taskforce will conduct public consultation sessions from January to May 2019 for the general public. This includes youth, adults, seniors, community partners as well as professionals in fields such as public health, social work, behavioural insights, urban design and sports, to crowd-source ideas and initiatives that can promote health.

(Sources: Ministry of Health, Singapore; Today)

New Center Opened In Singapore To Address Health Challenges In South East Asia

MEDICAL - Singapore
October 2018

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs launched the SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute (SDGHI) on 21 September 2018. The institute aims to address global health challenges presented by rapid globalisation, increasing disease burden and new and emerging infectious diseases in South East Asia. 

It will focus on four areas – research to respond to current and emerging health issues; education and training of future global health leaders; policy development to implement strong regulatory practices and high value health systems; and capacity building to develop a robust collaborative network of regional partners. Researchers, educators, and healthcare practitioners in the SDGHI will work across borders to gain deeper insights into diseases seldom seen locally, be exposed to diverse patient case-mixes and disease manifestations, and conduct multi-national research studies.

Professor Michael H. Merson, former vice-provost for global affairs at Duke University and founding director of the University’s Duke Global Health Institute, will lead the new institute. Prof Merson has served in advisory capacities for UNAIDS, WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, World Bank, World Economic Forum, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

(Sources: SingHealth; Straits Times) 

Accuron Opens SGD 10 Million Medical Technology Center In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
September 2018

Singapore-headquartered medical device company, Accuron MedTech Group (Accuron), opened a SGD 10 million medical technology center in Singapore on 13 September, 2018. As an incubator for new disruptive technologies, the Accuron MedTech Technology Centre will house design, digital innovation and healthcare, as well as facilities and spaces for co-creation and prototyping.  AMTC’s work will help bring together different stakeholders, including startups and entrepreneurs, to develop and test-bed integrated, next-generation healthcare solutions. 

Accuron is ultimately wholly owned by Temasek Holdings, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund. ITt is vertically integrated medical device company with leading market position in urological stone treatment, offering a comprehensive suite of healthcare solutions, from medical equipment, and consumables to service delivery, for urological stone treatment. At the same time, Accuron Amakes strategic investments in category disruptive technologies in the healthcare sector. To date, Accuron MedTech has made 10 M&A strategic transactions. One of its recent transactions involved Advent Access a medical technology startup in end stage renal disease management, which is spin-off from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, or A*STAR, a publicly funded research body in Singapore. Another recent investment was in AWAK Technologies, a medical technology company, founded in 2007 that is dedicated to transforming the lives of patients suffering from kidney disease.

In 2017, Accuron MedTech opened the Dornier MedTech Asia Pacific Headquarters and Global Clinical Innovation Centre here in Singapore. The centre in Jurong is one of Singapore’s first medical technology companies to lead a global clinical research, regulatory and commercialisation strategy for a breakthrough medtech technology, Dornier Aries.

Speaking at the launch, Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-In-Charge of Trade Relations noted that Singapore has over 240 healthcare startups, with capabilities in areas such as digital pathology, diagnostic imaging, and cardiovascular implants. Multinationals are also establishing a home in Singapore, which hosts over 60 regional headquarters and more than 30 research & development (R&D) centres from leading MedTech firms. 

(Sources: Business Times; Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore; Accuron MedTech Group)


Singhealth And SMU To Train Undergraduates In Health Economics And Management

MEDICAL - Singapore
August 2018

SingHealth and the Singapore Management University (SMU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 14 August to train the university’s undergraduates in a new Health Economics and Management (HEM) second major. The collaboration aims to nurture a pipeline of local graduates who are equipped with knowledge in healthcare administration. 

Commencing in January 2019, the programme is open to all SMU students in their first or second year of study. The curriculum jointly curated by SMU and SingHealth, covers areas that are of increasing importance in the healthcare sector including Health Systems and Policy, Applied Analytics in Healthcare Management, Operations and Supply Chain Management as well as Medical Sociology. 

Beyond the classroom setting, students will undergo a 10-week or six-month internship programme at SingHealth’s healthcare institutions. SingHealth is Singapore's largest group of healthcare institutions, consisting of four public hospitals across the island, five national specialty centres and a network of nine polyclinics. 

This is the second formal training partnership between SingHealth and SMU. In 2009, the SMU-SingHealth Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Management & Leadership was launched to groom healthcare leaders by equipping them with healthcare management and business leadership skills. To date, 216 clinicians and healthcare administrators from Singapore and the region have graduated from the programme. This year will see the 10th cohort of 22 participants undergo the 5 month programme from June to October 2018.

(Source: Singapore Management University; Channel NewsAsia)

NTU Singapore Launches New Population And Community Health Laboratories 

MEDICAL - Singapore
July 2018

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) launched several new research centres and laboratories focused on the prevention and treatment of the most pressing diseases affecting Singaporeans. This is in line with the Ministry of Health's efforts to move beyond healthcare and boost preventive health by encouraging and empowering Singaporeans to take good care of their health, arrest the causes of ill health early and reduce the progression of long-term chronic diseases. 

The Population and Community Health Laboratories at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), include:

  • The Clinical Research Centre: The centre includes eight observation beds, 15 clinical assessment and consultation rooms, specialised equipment, a bioprocessing laboratory and a biobank. It has a dedicated team with experience in different therapeutic areas who work with academic faculty, clinicians and industry to conduct early-phase clinical trials, epidemiological, biomarker and physiological studies. Studies include research of new investigational products and innovative therapies to address complex medical problems; collection of population health data to inform health policies, and storage of tissue samples for current and future research.
  • The Centre for Population Health Sciences: This has a focus on transdisciplinary population health sciences, this centre explores new ways of providing care and expertise in digital health (eHealth), health services and outcomes research. 
  • The Centre for Primary Health Care Research & Innovation: This is a joint initiative by LKCMedicine and the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, the centre provides research training and funds research studies at polyclinics. In May 2017, the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, the Institute of Mental Health and LKCMedicine were awarded a National Medical Research Council collaborative Centre Grant of SGD 5 million (USD 3.7 million) over four years to deepen research in multi-morbidity and mental health within a multi-ethnic population.
  • The Exercise Medicine and Physiology Laboratory: It focuses on the role of exercise in preventing and treating age-associated chronic diseases, such as neuro-cognitive impairment, musculoskeletal decline and development of metabolic syndrome with ageing. The aim is to translate research findings into positive health outcomes by integrating community-based exercise and activity programmes with clinical management of age-associated chronic disease.

The 20-year Health for Life in Singapore (HELIOS) Study which commenced in July 2017 and is hosted at the Clinical Research Centre exemplifies the direction and objectives  of the new health laboratories. The study seeks to identify the genetic and environmental factors that underpin the development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and other complex diseases affecting Singaporeans, so that disease susceptibility can be predicted and changes in health status can be identified. To date 800 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged 30 to 84 have been recruited for this study of more than 10,000 people in the first phase. 

(Sources: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Channel NewsAsia)

First Phase Of S$100 Million Regional Oncology Center Opened In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
June 2018

Royal Philips and the Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine Holdings officially opened the Advanced Medicine Imaging (AMI) center at Biopolis, the international biomedical research hub in Singapore, on 6 June. The center will provide specialized oncology care to the fast-growing number of people confronted with cancer in the Southeast Asia region. In addition, the center will facilitate scientific research and development and provide medical training targeted at upskilling the region’s healthcare professionals in the newest cancer therapies. 

The facilities at the center are being built through an investment of S$100 million (US$ 75 million) ann they will open in phases scheduled for completion by the end of 2019.

The AMI center is equipped with advanced imaging systems and clinical informatics aimed at helping clinicians deliver cancer diagnoses with higherspeed and efficiency. The center will house two Philips Vereos PET/CT scanners, the world’s first and only fully digital PET/CT systems. It will also have Philips’ IQon Spectral CT, a Computed Tomography (CT) solution that allows clinicians to characterize tumors with greater certainty than is possible with black and white images from conventional CT scans.  These imaging systems will be complemented by a suite of healthcare informatics solutions. Philips is providing the IT solutions to integrate systems, aggregate data, accelerate workflows, and facilitate informed decisions. 

In addition to the diagnostic imaging facilities, upcoming facilities at the regional oncology center aim to provide more personalized and targeted cancer treatment pathways through the use of radioisotope therapies, such as Lu-PSMA (Lutetium Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen) therapy, and proton beam therapy for tumor treatment. 

The regional oncology center also aims to promote clinical research for breakthroughs in cancer diagnostics and treatment, and cross-border medical training to enhance the knowledge and expertise of the region’s healthcare professionals. 

(Sources: Royal Philips, Business Times) 

(Image credit: Royal Philips)

Increased Demand For Skills in Singapore's Life Sciences Sector

MEDICAL - Singapore
May 2018

According to Hays in Singapore, the unexpected GDP growth in 2017 plus the strong and stable growth predicted for 2018, means there is rise in demand for candidates in the commercial sectors and manufacturing parts of the life sciences industry. The growth is also being fuelled by the industry’s attention to the arrival of digital health and artificial intelligence (AI).

The roles of major prominence for 2018 are expected to include commercial, diagnostics, genomics, informatics, manufacturing quality, and manufacturing engineering skill set.

With the R&D sector waning in its prominence, the key area of growth is expected to be in the commercial sectors where candidates experienced in sales and marketing are required more than ever. According to Grant Torrens, the Business Director at Hays Singapore, companies are increasingly seeking to bolster their sales departments. While last year was characterised by the hiring of replacement and junior sales staff, now the companies are revising their strategies and are becoming more confident in scaling out their sales departments.

As well as GDP growth, the Singapore government’s interest in the industry through the Economic Development Board (EDB) and schemes such as RIE2020 (Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020) has encouraged further external investment from big name companies to set up regional headquarters and manufacturing plants in Singapore. The current investments in AI, robot doctors and MedTech are also fuelling demand for candidates in the areas of diagnostics, informatics and genomics.

According to Hays Singapore, other trends in the Singapore’s life sciences sector include:

  • Companies are vastly improving their ability to attract candidates of all levels by enhancing employer brand, being increasingly active on social media and creating teams dedicated to the acquisition of the best talent at most graduate recruitment fairs.
  • Quality and interior positions continue to be steady as companies ensure that they have a constant stream of talent.
  • Candidates in the medical affairs and regulatory affairs sectors can see benefits in taking on additional learning to advance their careers, with many senior level individuals attaining PhDs and MBAs.
  • Companies in commercial and manufacturing sectors are showing a firm commitment to hiring candidates with experience in similar products, preferably acquiring candidates from direct competitors.
  • There is a current trend for companies operating in medical device industry giving candidates greater international experience by offering training around the APAC region and further afield.

(Sources: The Global Recruiter)

Singapore Pharma On Recovery Path After Worst Output In Decades

MEDICAL - Singapore
April 2018

Singapore’s pharmaceuticals business, one of the pillars of the city-state’s manufacturing sector, is set to return to strength in 2018 as big global drugmakers ramp up output and advance automation at their production sites across the country. The good news for the sector come after dismal 2017, which marked the sector’s worst contraction in two decades.

The strong growth projections for 2018 come amid the opening of new sites like AbbVie’s biologics manufacturing facility and the ramp up of others including Amgen and Novartis. In addition, the pace of new drug approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hit a 21-year high in 2017, which is expected to bode well for Singapore’s pharma industry, which hosts facilities of eight of the world’s top 10 drugmakers, including Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Pharmaceuticals is the second largest contributor to the country’s manufacturing output and accounts for 3% of its GDP. The sector’s output has risen more than three-fold since the start of this century, with the sector generating SGD 17 billion (USD 13 billion) worth of products in 2017.

(Source: Reuters)

Health And Biomedical Sciences Sector In Singapore To Receive Boost By USD 15 Million

MEDICAL - Singapore
March 2018

Accuron MedTech Group (Accuron MedTech), the South East Asia’s largest medical device company, announced in February 2018 that it has been appointed by SPRING SEEDS Capital (SSC), the investment arm of SPRING Singapore, to identify and catalyse the growth of high-potential Singapore-based start-ups. The company is expected to invest up to SGD 10 million (USD 7.6 million) in Singapore’s health and biomedical sciences sector. These investments will be also matched by SSC.

Accuron MedTech’s investment will be made through the MTA2, a consortium of Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS), Accuron MedTech and Lu Yoh-Chie (LYC), the founder of Biosensors. Investee companies will have access to Accuron MedTech’s senior management team, which has more than 100+ years of international healthcare sector expertise, taking medical innovations from concept phase through to commercialisation worldwide.

In the last four years, Accuron MedTech has made more than 10 strategic investments in highly innovative, category disruptive technology start-ups – including renal disease companies Advent Access and AWAK Technologies, and ophthalmic company Peregine Ophthalmic – that have the potential to revolutionise healthcare and transform the paradigm of patient treatment.

(Sources: Healthcare Innovation)

Orange Valley Opens Sixth Nursing Home

MEDICAL - Singapore
February 2018

Orange Valley Nursing Homes has opened its sixth home, making it the largest operator of such facilities in Singapore, with more than 1,000 beds. Its latest nursing home, which started operations in January 2018, has 118 beds and is supported by nearly 20 staff. The new facility offers short-term stays as well as step-down care options when caregivers or family members are not available, or when round-the-clock supervision and medical care are required. It additionally provides rehabilitation services for both inpatient and outpatient cases, such as for those who have had amputation or joint surgery, or suffered a stroke or Parkinson’s disease. The new nursing home is also the first privately owned facility to provide outpatient rehabilitation services. The cost of staying at the home ranges from SGD 3,500 (USD 2,652) for private patients who opt for the open ward to SGD 9,000 (USD 6,818) for a private one-bedded room a month. The open wards are also available for subsidised patients.

With an ageing population and rising chronic disease incidence, healthcare needs in Singapore will increase in demand and complexity. Singapore's Ministry of Health has set out three key shifts for the country's healthcare system. First, moving beyond healthcare to health through more effective health promotion and disease prevention. Second, moving beyond hospital to community by shifting the centre of gravity of care from the acute hospital setting to the primary care, community and home settings, while maintaining care outcomes. And finally, shifting beyond quality to value through ensuring appropriate and cost-effective care.

(Source: Ministry of Health; The Straits Times)

Health Spending To Rise Sharply Over The Next 3-5 Years

MEDICAL - Singapore
January 2018

Government’s healthcare spending in Singapore is expected to go up sharply in the next three to five years, according to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, with additional funds of at least SGD 3 billion (USD 2.29 billion) being added to healthcare by 2020. Government spending on healthcare is expected to reach SGD 13 billion (USD 9.94) by 2020 – an increase of more than three times over a 10-year period (from SGD 4 billion in 2010). Improvements to community care as well as preventive care would be the priority areas for utilising additional funds. In addition, the Minister also spoke of the need to re-engineer healthcare processes in order to address the challenges of the ageing workforce, and the opportunities that new technologies offer for re-defining value chains and boosting productivity in healthcare. Rising healthcare costs in Singapore is expected to be covered by new or the increases in present taxes.

(Sources: The Independent; The New Paper; The Online Citizen)

Japan’s Chugai Pharma To Invest USD 222 Million In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
January 2018

Japan’s Chugai Pharmaceuticals (CP) announced in December 2017 its plans to invest some JPY 25 billion (USD 222 million) in a Singapore R&D centre for biopharmaceuticals by 2021 in order to expand its antibody research and compete better with a host of specialty bioventures.

CP intends to expand the development of therapeutic antibodies at the lab, Chugai Pharmabody Research, which currently handles around 3,000 candidate antibodies per week to discover select few fit for commercial use. Additional capacity is set to go online in 2019 and will help the company quickly scale up their clinical trials for antibodies honed in Singapore. Fresh investments in automation and artificial intelligence are intended to make the process more efficient while the lab’s R&D activities are expected to make antibodies more functional. CP’s Singapore lab plans to prepare two antibodies and their related technologies for commercialisation yearly.

Given the fact that low-cost engineering and other technologies have lowered the barrier to creating high-quality biosimilars – the equivalent of generic drugs – for even complex antibodies by startups, this strategy makes good business sense for big drug makers, as development and marketing rights for antibody treatments (currently an expensive investment) can be sold to such bioventures.

Antibody drugs accounted for 57% of Chugai’s JPY 491.7 billion (USD 4.4 billion) in consolidated revenue for 2016. The company remains Japan’s top biopharmaceutical maker, having introduced the country’s first domestically produced therapeutic antibody in 2005 to treat rheumatism.

(Sources: Nikkei Asian Review; The Edge Singapore)

Leading Pharmaceutical Companies To Establish Innovation Program In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
December 2017

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR; Singapore's lead public sector agency for economic oriented research) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have signed an MOU with leading pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Pfizer, and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) to establish the Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (PIPS).

The focus areas for PIPS include continuous manufacturing, bio-catalysis, process analytical technology, advanced process control, and enhanced pharmaceutical operations. PIPS will bring together Singapore’s public sector research capabilities and the domain expertise of key players in the Pharma industry to improve and transform the manufacturing operations and technologies of the industry.

Singapore's vision vision is to lead the way in the global transformation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing to create unique value for patients, the pharmaceutical industry and for the country. According to Sama Khan, healthcare analyst at GlobalData, Singapore has emerged as a regional hub for the manufacture and R&D activities of multinational pharmaceutical companies, and offers excellent opportunities for biomedical science companies via a pro-business environment, low unit labor costs, low corporate tax and strong government support.

(Sources: OpenGov; GlobalData)

GSK Asia Headquarters Opens In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
November 2017

British pharmaceutical multinational GSK officially celebrated the opening of its Asian headquarters in Singapore at the GSK Asia House (GSKAH), which is located at Rochester Park in One-North. GSKAH will serve as the global home for several key business areas, and will be the base for the pharmaceuticals business in the Emerging Markets and International regions, the Consumer Healthcare businesses in Asia Pacific, as well as the Global Classic & Established Products business. Currently home to over 800 employees, the purposebuilt building designed to foster better connectivity and collaboration, will help GSK anticipate and meet the changing healthcare needs of patients and consumers.

In addition to enhancing collaboration across global, regional and in-market teams, GSKAH also strengthens GSK’s ability to improve the way healthcare professionals receive the latest medical information. The GSKAH Digital Broadcast Centre is equipped with broadcasting and production capabilities to create customised digital communications for healthcare professionals in Asia and beyond. Through these digital platforms, the healthcare community will be kept up-to-date on the latest medical developments and improve patient outcomes.

GSK has also established a state-of-the-art Shopper Science Lab (SSL) in Singapore to drive growth in key markets like China, India and South East Asia. Through in-depth analysis of shopper behaviour and collaboration with retailer partners, the SSL will help shape strategic and tactical decisions in areas such as new product development, promotions, packaging and merchandising.

(Source: GSK)

Singapore Sees Rise In Demand For Medical Services

MEDICAL - Singapore
October 2017

Due to its aging population, Singapore has seen an apparent rise in the hospital confinements and the number of people seeking medical help. The rate has been observed to have increased in both public and private sectors. Compared to 2015, hospitals in Singapore have seen a 9% increase, compared to the annual 4% increase in the last ten years. Clinics have also experienced a rise in patient attendance, registering an additional 400,000 visits more than in 2015.

Subsidies offered by the government have also been seen as a contributing factor. Half of Singapore's population is entitled to the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidy when they get treated in general practice clinics and polyclinics, while 450,000 Singapore senior citizens can take advantage of the Pioneer Generation (PG) subsidy. 

Singapore is currently experiencing a slow growth in its population, with the rate of citizens aged 65 and up now at 14.4% and only 0.9% growth in citizen births and immigration.

(Source: The Straits Times)

Australian Medical Start-Up Finds Collaborations In Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
September 2017

Australian medtech start-up Anatomics has signed a 3D printing-related agreement with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. The partnership is an outcome of Australia's Landing Pad Program, where start-up companies are supported by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission to have an on-site, 90-day stint at one of the programme’s five offices around the world. Anatomics has also entered into partnership with Singapore-based manufacturing company Ultra Clean Technologies (UCT).

Working with NTU, Anatomics will seek to advance research in the field of 3D printed medical devices, which will include developing new medical-grade 3D printing materials, as well as designing customized, smart implants. Through its collaboration with UCT, the Australian startup will focus on the commercialization of its bespoke 3D printed medical devices, specifically for the Asian market. UTC has a been a key player in Singapore’s 3D printing industry since the launch of its 3D printing facility in Singapore in 2005. Anatomics plans to reach out and collaborate with additional Asia-based healthcare institutions to market and sell their 3D printed products. It also plans to explore the potential of smart medical devices and implants that are capable of giving feedback and real-time statistics about the patient’s condition and body.

(Sources:; Body Reviewers; Today Online)

Singapore Inaugurates New 3D-Printing Center For Health Research

MEDICAL - Singapore
August 2017

A new 3D-printing center has been inaugurated at the National University of Singapore. The center, called the National University of Singapore Centre for Additive Manufacturing (AM.NUS), is funded by the National University of Singapore (NUS), the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

The center will focus its research on various specific areas, such as the development of customized 3D-printed surgical instruments, simulators and, functional prosthetics, restorative repairs and implants with ceramic and metal 3D printing, etc. There will be two main laboratories that are to be equipped with state of the art 3D printing technology.

AM.NUS is working together with four industry partners to develop and transfer AM technologies for biomedical applications. These industry partners include Creatz3D, Dou Yee Enterprises, Forefront Additive Manufacturing and Osteopore International.

(Source: The Straits Times, NUS Singapore)

The Advanced Medicine Oncology Centre at Biopolis

MEDICAL - Singapore
July 2017

Singapore will build a new cancer centre at Biopolis, Buona Vista, called the Advanced Medicine Oncology Centre. This will be collaboration between Royal Philips, the Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine Holdings (SAM), Varian Medical Systems and IBA Worldwide, with SAM investing SDG 100 million (USD 73 million) to the project. The centre will serve as a research, training and treatment centre and it will have Philips’ advanced diagnostic imaging systems and clinical informatics. The centre is also looking to managing diagnostic and therapeutic medical specialities to address cardiovascular and neurological disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease in the future.

(Source: The Straits Times, Philips Media)

Singapore’s National Health IT Master Plan (HITMAP) Revealed

MEDICAL - Singapore
June 2017

The healthcare sector’s IT programs in Singapore have been guided by Master Plan (HITMAP) since 2014. Seven transformation programs have been added to the strategic HITMAP to enable the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) three key shifts of moving beyond quality to value, beyond hospital to community, and beyond healthcare to health. In addition, it supports policy formulation and evaluation, systems governance, public health and operations management, as well as strengthens IT resiliency and improves cost effectiveness. There are also new projects in line such as the admissions prevention predictive model for the Ministry’s Hospital to Home Program, Health Marketplace and Vital Signs Monitoring.

The seven transformation programs include:

  1. Population Profiling – to develop common data analytic capabilities to link data across Singapore’s healthcare and other non-healthcare data sources to deliver insights about the population.
  2. Population Enablement – to develop one-stop online health content, information and services portal for Singapore residents. This is also a common channel for them to interact with healthcare providers.
  3. Prevention and Continuity of Care – to develop a platform that allows accessibility and sharing of patients’ health records across the national healthcare network and to promote coordination among clinicians and care providers across the continuum of care and provides care transformation from the traditional doctor-centric model to a team-based, patient-centric model.
  4. Provider Care & Operations Excellence – to enable the primary and intermediate & long-term care sector with basic IT in order to connect them with Public Health Institutions to facilitate the processing of sharing patients’ information/
  5. Healthcare Financial Excellence – to ensure patient healthcare affordability and improve visibility in costs and outcome. This will also enhance cost effectiveness in this sector.
  6. Policy & Public Health Workbench – to identify common information needs and develop common capabilities to collect and analyze the data to support policy formulation and public health management.
  7. IT Foundation & Resiliency – to develop common foundation IT capabilities to improve its scalability and resiliency.

(Sources: IHiS, OPEN GOV)

Zuellig Pharma Invests In Singapore-Based Healthtech Start-up Klinify

MEDICAL - Singapore
May 2017

Zuellig Pharma, a leading provider of pharmaceutical logistics services in Asia Pacific announced its investment in Singapore-based healthtech startup Klinify. Klinify is a cloud-based clinic management solution that helps doctors migrate to electronic records using tablets, making the digitalization of medical information much more efficient. This strategic partnership between Zuellig Pharma and Klinify will focus on making Klinify a “one-stop-shop” for doctors.

(Sources: Zuellig Pharma, Healthcare Asia)

Woodlands Health Campus To Add 1,800 Beds And Smart Technology

MEDICAL - Singapore
April 2017

The Woodlands Health Campus (WHC) will be adopting smart technology to improve the patient care experience. Telehealth will be used to allow people to access hospital services such as registration, filling of medical information, ordering medication and payment from their own homes. Moreover, robotics will automate back-end logistics such as food services, house keeping and the central sterile supplies unit, to increase the availability of staff to pay attention to the personal needs of patients. Electronic wristbands will also be used by nurses to monitor patients’ conditions in the hospital and after they return home.

(Sources: Channel News Asia, Healthcare Facilities Today)

Singapore’s Expenditure On Healthcare To Reach SGD 12 Billion by 2020

MEDICAL - Singapore
March 2017

It is projected that the Government’s healthcare spending will triple to SGD 12 billion (USD 8.78 billion) by 2020, a rise from SGD 4 billion in 2011 (USD 2.93 billion) and SGD 9 billion (USD 6.58 billion) in 2017. This expenditure will go towards expanding healthcare infrastructure such as the increase in public hospital, community hospital, and nursing home capacity by 2020. In addition, there are enhanced subsidies at specialist outpatient clinics and intermediate and long term care and more subsidies will be extended for low and middle income Singaporeans for Medishield Life premiums.

(Sources: Enterprise Innovation, Today Online)

Korean Healthcare Group Becomes Shareholder Of Singapore Medical Group

MEDICAL - Singapore
February 2017

Singapore Medical Group (SMG) has placed out SGD 15 million (USD 10.97 million) of shares to South Korea’s CHA Healthcare Co., (CHC), part of CHA Medical Group (CHA) making it a major strategic shareholder. SMG has outlined its plan to use the proceeds to explore further organic and inorganic growth opportunities in Singapore and South East Asia as it transforms into a pan-Asia private healthcare specialist. In addition, SMG and CHA will work collaboratively to pursue strategic initiatives in Singapore, Vietnam and other key markets across Southeast Asia.

SMG will issue 30 million new ordinary shares to CHC at SGD 0.50 per share via a private placement. CHC will emerge as SMG’s fourth largest shareholder with a 8.8% stake of the enlarged shareholding base and its largest strategic equity partner.

(Sources: Next Insight, The Business Times)

Trendlines Medical Gets Grant From SPRING Singapore

MEDICAL - Singapore
January 2017

Trendlines Medical Singapore, a subsidiary of the Trendlines Group is receiving a grant of up to SGD 2.2 million (USD 1.61 million) under the Incubator Development Program administered by SPRING Singapore, the enterprise development agency of the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry. Funds from the grant will support the operating activities of Trendlines Medical Singapore, which was established to invest in, develop and nurture early-stage medical technology companies to improve the human condition.

(Sources: Trendlines, Next Insight)

Singapore Group To Build Health Hub In Malaysia

MEDICAL - Singapore
December 2016

Thomson Medical, a Singapore private healthcare group is building a healthcare facility in Johor Baru (JB), a five-minute drive from the causeway that links Singapore and Malaysia. The group is anticipating that Singaporeans will cross the causeway for medical treatment, due to lower prices offered at this hospital. This concept is not new for Singaporeans as many have already switched to using JB for health services with the opening of Parkway Health’s 300-bed Gleneagles Medini Hospital. In addition, some elderly Singaporeans have opted to live in nursing homes in JB.

The group envisions this project as a community hospital that takes care of all its patients needs. The project will also incorporate a school for would-be doctors and nurses from Singapore. It is expected to be completed in 10 years with its own general and community hospitals, specialist center, and a medical school with research facilities. It will also incorporate residences for the elderly.

(Sources: Free Malaysia Today, The Newspaper)

Developing Woodlands As Singapore Northern Gateway

MEDICAL - Singapore
November 2016

Aetna International, the leading healthcare insurer, is establishing an Innovation Hub for Asia, based in Singapore. Specifically aimed at local healthcare market needs in the regional markets including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, the bespoke solutions developed by the Innovation Hub will allow Aetna to offer greater value and service to the local populations.

The Hub will create an end-to-end product development capability for Aetna in the region, allowing it to develop and distribute products more effectively and bring them to the market more quickly. This will allow faster access to better healthcare solutions for more people in Asia.

(Sources: Aetna International, The Business Times)