Global Trend Data Shows 50% of New Trials Have Sites in Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific region, which has more than 6,772 trial sites each with access to an average of 2,136 million people, has considerable underutilized capacity presenting an opportunity for growth in multinational trials in the region.
Demand for Asia Pacific trial sites is strong with almost half of the more than 27,000 clinical trials initiated in 2021 having in Asia Pacific, according to the latest analysis from GlobalData in a new report titled State of the Global Biotech Landscape: Where the Opportunities Lie.
Download the report here.
The data shows almost 12,900 of these trials had Sites in Asia Pacific.
Asia Pacific has also seen high Phase-level growth trends over the 5-year analysis period to 2022.
- Phases I and II were dominated by Asia Pacific, which served as a trial location in 57% and 49% of trials, respectively.
- US and EU remained stable at approximately 20% at phases I through III.
- RoW representation is low in phases I and II but on par with the US and EU in phase III.
Global Trials Growth by Geography
Since 2017 trials initiated in Asia Pacific increased by almost 10%, contributing significantly to global therapeutic development, while in the US and RoW, growth was less than 2%, while EU growth was just under 3%.
Asia Pacific trials experienced substantial year-on-year growth witnessing a CAGR of 9.8%.
Since 2017 Europe has been the second fastest growing region, with a YoY growth rate just one third that of Asia Pacific (2.9% with a total of 5,000 trials in 2021). Meanwhile the US has had the least number of trials in 2021 (4,900) and slowest growth of just 1.5% year-on-year 2017-2021.
China Biotech Growth
China has become a global biotech powerhouse with significant internal and global growth. From 2017-2021, Chinese-sponsored multi-country trials have grown by 68%, while single-country trials have grown by 128%.
Site Density & Capacity Comparisons
The GlobalData analysis noted that the Asia Pacific region, which has more than 6,772 trial sites each with access to an average of 2,136 million people, has considerable underutilized capacity presenting an opportunity for growth in multinational trials in the region.
- 60% of Phase I trials are being conducted in Asia Pacific
- 50% of Phase II trials are being conducted in Asia Pacific
- 36% of Phase 3 trials are being conducted in Asia Pacific
Of trials initiated in H1 2022:
- APAC accounts for the greatest proportion of early phase development with almost 60% of Phase I trials being conducted in this region.
- For Phase II trials, 50% are run in APAC, while US and EU retain roughly 18% and 20% of trials, respectively.
- By Phase III, international distribution becomes more uniform, however, APAC continues to contribute the largest proportion of trials with 36%.
Clinical Trial Shift to Include DCTs
“DCTs have grown between roughly 10-20%. The exception to this is the growth within Phase I trials in APAC, which witnessed almost 60% growth over the same time span.” GlobalData
Decentralized or virtual trials (DCTs/VTs) can optimize the clinical trial process. DCTs involve web and mobile device-enabled tools to increase trial participation, retention, and data collection, particularly during challenging times. In addition, this offers access for people who may have been previously excluded due to location.
DCTs have grown across the board over the analysis period between roughly 10-20% indicating strong sector interest in these advanced technologies. The exception to this is the growth within Phase I trials in Asia Pacific, which witnessed almost 60% growth over the same time period.
“With just short of 13,000 trials in 2021, nearly double digit 5-year trial growth, and a largely untapped urbanized population, Asia Pacific is positioned as an ideal region for continued clinical trial growth.” GlobalData
Opportunities in Asia Pacific
Connecting many of the metrics discussed so far, a clear clustering effect presents itself. The US, EU, and RoW regions all group around 4,000-5,000 2021 trials and 1%-2% 2017-2021 trial growth, with a discrepancy emerging between the saturation of the US and EU compared with RoW. The striking outlier, however, is Asia Pacific. With just short of 13,000 trials in 2021, nearly double digit 5-year trial growth, and a largely untapped urbanized population, Asia Pacific is positioned as an ideal region for continued clinical trial growth.
Moreover, many countries within this region have historically been welcoming to biotech R&D, such as the innovation rebates and incentive schemes in Australia and the continued investment of the Chinese government in biotech clinical development.
COVID-19 also stimulated a surge in investment in the biotech industry. In the US IPO deals jumped from 49 worth $5.6Bn in 2019 to 75, worth over $18Bn the next year. In Asia Pacific, the number of biotech IPOs doubled and the value nearly tripled to 55 deals worth $9.4Bn over the same timeframe. The post-COVID-19 return to pre-2020 growth in Asia Pacific demonstrates the sustained opportunity within this region.
Other macroeconomic cycles are relevant forces on the biotech clinical landscape. The possibility of an impending recession may counteract much of the investment seen in the last few years. A loss to the scale of the 2008 financial crisis would be worth $100B in global equity offerings if replicated today. However, the value of biotech companies may be insulated from the brunt of the economic downturn, as seen by the returns of the S&P Biotech ETF remaining strong compared to the S&P 500 in the wake of 2008.
Even with the current uncertainty, sustained growth in the biotech and pharmaceutical development industries is almost certain. While regions like the US and Europe have historically been anchors for clinical programs, burgeoning trials metrics and accessibility to huge pools of potential subjects in Asia Pacific present a desirable destination for developers across the world.