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HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Ageing population to bolster pharma market growth by 5.4% annually

Medicine sales could also grow 5.7% annually and hit $2.22b by 2028.

Singapore’s pharmaceutical market is set to benefit from its ageing population and grow by 5.4% annually from $1.28b in 2018 to $1.66b in 2023, Fitch Solutions said. Medicine sales could experience an annual growth of 5.7% over the next 10 years to reach $2.22b by 2028.

“An ageing population, a preference for innovative medicines, and the population's access to new and advanced healthcare technologies will result in the continued growth of Singapore’s pharmaceutical market,” analysts at Fitch Solutions said.

Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed ambitious long-term plans aimed at improving healthcare in the National Day Rally speech on 19 August 2018. Singapore’s increased focus on addressing the medical needs of the ageing population will drive changes to the delivery of healthcare in the country, the analysts said.

There are currently around 500,000 people aged over 65 in Singapore. By 2030, this will rise to 900,000 which will level more strain on healthcare infrastructure, Fitch Solutions noted.

This ageing population plays a role in driving up polyclinic attendance numbers and as such the prime minister also announced that six new polyclinics will be built by 2023 and existing ones will be refurbished as part of efforts to keep quality primary care affordable and accessible.

Also read: Singapore's healthcare spending boom in sight as more hospitals open doors

“The government’s commitment towards ensuring the quality of lives of the citizens through providing sufficient medical care will, therefore, see its healthcare expenditure continue to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years,” the analysts said.

Moreover, according to finance minister Heng Swee Keat, Singapore's needs in education, healthcare, security and defence are growing, and the upcoming 2019 budget will focus on these areas.

Singapore will need to find cost efficiency in its healthcare system, however, as rising healthcare expenditure will place increasing pressure on both public and private health funding regimes.

Also read: Medical inflation in Singapore to hit 10% in 2019

“Cost efficiency has been a long-held value of the Singapore public healthcare system and this has extended into controlling the funds spent on pharmaceuticals,” Fitch Solutions analysts said.

“Amongst the various tools, the use of generic drugs has become an effective strategy to reduce expenditure without compromising the quality of care. As such, generic pharmaceutical companies will be presented with robust commercial opportunities in Singapore - attributable to the widespread need to make medicines affordable for the population and healthcare providers,” they added. 

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