Hong-Kong-PharmaceuticalsAccording to the report´s Asia Pacific Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Business Environment Ranking table for Q109, Hong Kongs pharmaceutical market remains viewed as the sixth-most attractive in the region, on a par with Taiwan. Over our five-year forecast period, the report expects Hong Kong to be overtaken by countries like India, as they start to fulfil their potential.

Nevertheless, due to its position as a gateway to mainland China and the traditional preference for branded products, Hong Kong should remain one of the large regional markets in Asia Pacific in value terms.

In October 2008, Hong Kong introduced a new strategic framework for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. The framework was developed by the Department of Health (DoH), with input from experts of various disciplines and making reference to the World Health Organization (WHO) guiding principles in disease prevention and health promotion. Non-communicable diseases have grown rapidly in recent years, leading to shortened life expectancy and affecting quality of life in the territory.

With an ageing population, the impact of non-communicable diseases in Hong Kong is anticipated to grow further in the decades ahead. By 2031, the portion of people older than 65 is expected to top 24% of the total population in Hong Kong, up from around 12% at present. The figures also indicate a sizeable opportunity for drugmakers active in the prescription and patented segments in particular. The government is also planning to set up new medical centres of excellence, which will house specialist units dealing with therapeutic areas of importance, specifically paediatrics and neuroscience.

Illustrating the growing potential of the regional pharmaceutical market, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways launched a new cold chain cargo service in September 2008. Pharma Lift has four components and allows a variety of medicines to be transported at the correct temperature. BMI believes that the service offered by Cathay Pacific is unparalleled in the airfreight sector and expects conscientious drugmakers to utilise it frequently. Pharma Lift is a full spectrum cold chain package, using dry ice for transporting frozen or chilled items, as well as various electrical heaters for medicines that need to be stored at room temperature.

In the meantime, growing headwinds from the global economic slowdown and ongoing financial market volatility will further hamper the territory´s annual GDP growth. We have lowered our estimate for real GDP growth in 2008 to 4.6% (from 5.0% previously) and have also revised down our forecast for 2009, to 4.1% (from 4.8%), which should have an impact on the pharmaceutical values in the short term. Hong Kong´s domestic demand continues to suffer from high inflation and ongoing financial market turmoil, which has somewhat eroded wealth and consumer confidence, although private consumption remained the largest single contributor to the overall growth rate.