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Tariffs Notwithstanding, Globalization Alive and Well in Healthcare

By Alfred Romann

The backlash against global trade and the resurgence of protectionism is increasingly evident, mostly out of the U.S. This push flies in the face of decades of increasingly fluent globalization.

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South Korea takes steps to lower pharma prices

New measures put pressure on drug makers, importers and distributors

South Korea’s latest moves to make drugs more affordable are slowing down the growth of the pharma market in the country and maybe hurting sales of new and innovative drugs.

BMI Research predicts South Korean pharmaceutical will grow at 2.4% for the next 10 years, 1% less than expected. Elise Mak wrote about the changes in BioWorld (paywall) on May 4.

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R&D spend driving China pharma co’s

Companies are narrowing the gap

China is not a powerhouse of innovation, yet, but it is certainly trying to pay its way into that particular status. This willingness to spend in R&D – to pay to talent, buy innovative companies and seek out new technologies – is particularly visible in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology space. And it is working.

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Venezuela’s farcical medical device crisis

BOGOTA, Colombia. The government of Venezuela, which owes medical device companies around the world more than US$245 million, is now calling for the arrest of domestic device distributors.

In an impressive display of do-it-yourselfness President Nicolás Maduro himself led a daring raid into a warehouse full of medical devices, seized them all and swore: “as my name is Nicolás Maduro” the “bourgeois” that dared invest and trade in his country would find themselves in handcuffs.

Among the people in question is an older man who is in charge of the warehouses at Suministros Médicos Jayor (he is the father of the owner) and has been in Miami for four weeks recovering from a heart attack. The Venezuelan Association of Distributors of Medical, Odontological and Lab Devices the company has been in business for a quarter century.

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Vaccines are good

Vaccines are great. They are arguably one of the most important public health tools of the last century.

About 1,000 years ago, the Chinese came up with the first early inoculation process. Six centuries later, Europeans tried to develop one against smallpox. Today, they are in widespread use. Measles, mumps, chickenpox, yellow fever, typhoid fever and many other once crippling diseases are virtually non-issues in much of the developed world.

The value of vaccination, as a concept, is impossible to ignore.

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Another burst in Japan: drug approvals

Japan’s healthcare industry has been marked by a fascinating dichotomy for the last couple of decades. A dichotomy that hurt patients most of all.

On the one hand, Japan is home to the second largest pharmaceutical and biopharma market in the world. A market populated by world-class multinationals that develop leading drugs.

On the other hand, the country’s regulatory system has long been notoriously slow to approve new drugs. As a result, patients there would often have to wait years for new drugs that were already available in markets like the U.S., Canada, Australia or the E.U.

This seems to be changing.

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Healthcare Research Suggests More Growth in the Offing

Japan’s efforts to recreate its healthcare funding system provides at least one reason behind the ongoing bull market in healthcare and biotech.

Japan is creating a new National Institute of Health (NIH) that follows the U.S. funding model for the healthcare industry. That is good news for drug and medical device companies that may now have easier access to funds and for the entire healthcare industry in Japan as a whole, which has been stalled for a couple of decades.

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