Asia is a continent of diversity. Geographically large, the assortment of cultures, people, disease profiles, and healthcare systems added to the juxtaposition of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, emphasises the many challenges faced by the pharmaceutical companies when thinking of entering Asia. Countries such as Russia, India and China have traditionally been considered the key players in emerging markets.
However, vigorous economic growth, government healthcare reforms, population growth, increasing per capita income and changing disease profiles have led to a greater demand for healthcare and pharmaceuticals across other markets in the continent – nowhere more so than the 10 countries that comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
The ASEAN countries have a combined population of more than 625 million, nearly double that of the United States and more than 120 million higher than that of the EU. Topping $2.3 trillion, with a GDP per capita of US$3,748, their combined GDP is equal to around one-quarter that of China, and the region saw GDP growth of about 7% in 2013, compared with negative growth in the EU and approximately 2% growth in the United States1.
This opens a huge opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, amidst increasingly complex and evolving healthcare systems. Commercial success will depend on understanding the market dynamics by consolidating positioning within the market place with the requirements of each market.