Clinical trialists are increasingly looking towards Australia and the Asia Pacific to conduct research studies and perform other drug development activities. According to Dr. John Moller, CEO of Australia’s leading contract research organization (CRO), Novotech, the Asia Pacific region is becoming more popular because it offers research incentives and affordable clinical trial costs for biotech companies in any stage of therapeutic development.
“Like any business, biotech companies need to maximise cost efficiencies and regulatory speed, and access leading clinical trial infrastructure and decision makers in the regions in which they operate,” said Moller. “Australia is able to provide a fast and supportive clinical trial environment, especially for early stage research. A cost comparison study has found that clinical research costs in Australia are up to 60 percent cheaper than the US for companies able to fully utilise R&D incentives.”
In addition, the tax incentives offered by the Australian government make it more affordable for life science companies to set up shop in the country, particularly for biotechs looking to conduct early stage research.
“Australia’s tax and company compliance environment is transparent and efficient, which has enabled us to provide a simple, fixed-cost model for foreign-domiciled biotech companies seeking to establish operations in Australia,” said Blair Lucas, Consulting Managing Partner for specialist compliance group CoSec Consulting. “These tax incentives include a 43.5 percent refundable cash benefit for eligible research and development activities in Australia.”
Moller points out that governments across the Asia Pacific region have been working to change policy to encourage the establishment of clinical trial operations in these countries. In particular, countries like China and India have reduced regulatory barriers to bolster their clinical trials industry.
“Major advancements during 2017 included the significant restructure by China’s FDA to many aspects of its regulatory framework, with the changes outlined in Circular 53 now being implemented,” said Moller. “Malaysia has prioritised its clinical trial industry as part of its Economic Transformation Program and launched its first Phase I Clinical Trial Guidelines; while South Korea changed its healthcare policy to now cover the standard of care of patients participating in clinical trials. India also simplified its regulatory approval process in a bid to revitalise its clinical trial industry.”
According to a 2016 report by Statista, the international biotech industry is worth an estimated $140 billion. With 13 offices in 11 countries in the Asia Pacific region, Sydney-based Novotech is hoping to capture a piece of this drug development market.