Taiwan: R&D in Chinese herbal medicine gaining momentum
Thursday, May 23, 2002 08:00 IST Nick Chang
The Taiwan pharmaceutical industry can be divided into makers of Chinese herbal medicines and those who concentrate on Western medicines. Each sector has its own supply sources, manufacturing processes, and marketing channels. According to the latest statistics, Taiwan currently has 247 registered Chinese herbal medicine producers, among whom 66 are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturers.
More than 90 per cent of Chinese herbal companies are small - or medium - sized enterprises with capitalization of less than US$ 2 million. There are also around 280 Western medicine manufacturers in Taiwan. Of this number, 31 focus on producing bulk pharmaceutical chemicals. Total production volume of Western medicine topped US $ 1.5 billion. Since the downturn caused by the Asian financial crisis, many firms art beginning to target other overseas markets.
Chinese Medicine As governmental bodies around the world, including the United Nations World Health Organization, establish institutes and regulations focusing on alternative treatments, the once neglected domain of Chinese medicines may very well be able to boost the position of Taiwan pharmaceutical firms of pharmacology in which the island''s firms have an advantage over their Western counterparts.
R&D in Chinese herbal medicine is already picking up rapidly. The industry associations with the help of China External Trade Development Council (CETRA), are taking active role in encouraging such cooperation. They have, for instance made an initial proposal to invest over NT$ 4 billion (US$ 0.12 billion) over a five-year span to develop and commercialize Chinese herbal medicines.
This ambitious proposal will target a variety of medicines for development, as well as fund the construction of warehousing facilities and three GMP certified plants around the island. The plan also includes creating joint ventures among domestic firms, establishing logistics centers, constructing databases, and conducting clinical tests. Regardless of whether this particular plan is ultimately implemented, industry analysts are certain that sector will see more cooperative ventures in the near future.
- The author is the Managing Director of Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), Liaison Office in India.