Pharmaceutical firms to cash on Singapore's war on diabetes

Pharmaceutical firms to cash on Singapore's war on diabetes

Picture for representation Reuters

There is no denying the fact that Singapore suffers from high levels of diabetes in terms of prevalence. With the government's ongoing efforts to wage war against the disease, how will firms cash on the opportunity?

Data from the International Diabetes Federation showed that in 2015, there were approximately 500,000 adults with diabetes in Singapore, a prevalence of 12.8 percent. What's surprising is one in three people were not aware that they already have the disease.

The federation is expecting the figure to increase by 2040, with prevalence reaching p to 16.3 percent.

The World Health Organization has noted that in the past 35 years, the cases of diabetes in the country have already quadrupled.

Early in 2016, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared a war on diabetes. Industry leaders in the beverage industry including Coca-Cola, F&N Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Pokka committed to the fight by reducing their maximum sugar content to 12% by 2020.

Recently, the health ministry announced the launch of a free self-assessment survey, called the Diabetes Risk Assessment, with the aim to encourage not only those aged 40 and above but also the younger population to be aware of the risks of developing the condition.

According to BMI Research, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies will benefit from the growing consumption of diabetic treatments and from the government's efforts to ramp up expenditure on healthcare.

To recall, the previously mentioned initiative is a part of the greater efforts of the health ministry to prevent the disease. The plan includes awareness campaigns and a US$20 million investment to boost health promotion efforts.

BMI Research said between 2016 and 2026, medical spending in Singapore will jump from US$837 million to around US$1.6 billion.

This would give firms like Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk and Abbott, all of which are active players in Singapore's diabetes market, an opportunity to cash on the trend.

For instance, Janssen Pharmaceuticals formed a partnership with MOH to analyse and identify lifestyle factors and biomarkers that make individuals more prone to developing diabetes.

BMI Research noted that the high affordability levels in Singapore compared to nearby markets place the city-state's pharmaceutical industry in an attractive position for drugmakers.

"As the prevalence of diabetes increases in line with growing awareness of the population and increased efforts by the government, this will support a greater uptake of diabetes medicines over the long term," BMI Research said.