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David Y. Mitchell

David Y. Mitchell, Ph.D., is the current AAPS president.

The pharmaceutical industry has experienced a dramatic economic slowdown during the past few years, with a large number of patent expirations, a decrease in research and development productivity, and the high cost of drug development. However, the stifled growth that has been experienced by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the United States and Europe has been tempered by the strong development in healthcare in Asia Pacific. Frost and Sullivan, a business research and consulting firm, predicts that by 2015, Asia Pacific may represent 40% of the global healthcare market. Key to the Asia Pacific region becoming a life sciences hub is the need to continue to nurture and produce a talented and qualified pool of scientists.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilly, Roche, Novartis, Merck, and Sanofi are expanding their footprint in Asia Pacific. Crucial to this expansion is the need to find local residents who have the right work experience to fill these new positions. Although expatriates working and studying abroad are returning home, countries such as India and China are expected to expand their biopharmaceutical workforce three‑fold faster than the global rate through 2014. This expansion is understandable with the cost of conducting clinical trials being 10–60% less in China and India as compared to the West, and similar cost savings in manufacturing. One only needs to know that India has the second largest number of Food and Drug Administration-approved manufacturing plants after the United States to realize the need for trained pharmaceutical scientists in this region.

Thus, career opportunities exist for pharmaceutical scientists in Asia Pacific that don’t exist elsewhere in the world. The challenge ahead for students is to prepare for their entry into the pharmaceutical industry or academia, and upon graduation, to continue to enhance their scientific knowledge in the pharmaceutical sciences for their own personal development in the future.

How do you think the Asia Pacific job market will affect the industry?