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Bio pharma firm AbbVie opens biologics plant in Singapore

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(From right) Beh Swan Gin, chairman of Economic Development Board; Mr Iswaran; Richard Gonzalez, chairman and CEO of AbbVie. Mr Iswaran said that the rise in healthcare expenditure will be driven by emerging and lower income markets and the expansion of services in developed countries.

GLOBAL research and development-based bio pharmaceutical company AbbVie is expanding the capabilities of its Singapore operations with a new biologics manufacturing facility in Tuas.

The facility will expand the company's capabilities to include biological products in addition to its existing small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredient facility in Singapore.

The island republic joins 12 other sites across the US, Europe and Puerto Rico in AbbVie's global manufacturing network.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning, Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran said that the new facility comes at a timely moment, when ageing populations, growing healthcare demand and technological changes are changing healthcare paradigms.

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Mr Iswaran cited Deloitte's 2017 Global Healthcare Outlook report, which projects that the world's major regions will see compound annual growth rates in healthcare spending range from 2.4 per cent to 7.5 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

He said that the rise in healthcare expenditure will be driven by emerging and lower income markets and the expansion of services in developed countries.

Technology will allow healthcare providers to engage patients more effectively and enable the centre of healthcare delivery models to shift from hospitals to communities. Technology might also change the nature of manufacturing and firms that leverage this can achieve significant productivity gains and differentiate themselves in the market from the competition.

Although these shifts disrupts existing business models, they present significant new opportunities, he said. Therefore, "it is essential we adopt a forward looking approach and work closely with our people and industry partners to seize the opportunities that lie ahead".

Mr Iswaran added that the Singapore government has been partnering with the industry to train and upskill people. The Professional Conversion Programmes for the pharmaceuticals and biologics sector, which aims to help mid-career transitions to the industry, has benefited 350 people since 2014, he said.