Up until 10 years ago, very few phase 1 studies were done in Asia. With limited drug R&D capabilities, new drugs mostly came from the US and EU. According to a recent report by Novotech, the last ten years have seen a dramatic change. Phase I drug studies have grown rapidly, and in 2018 about 58% of all new phase I studies were initiated in Asia.
Chinese biopharma companies are now developing more new drugs than anywhere else in the world. With about 40% of the new phase 1 studies, China leads the way. Chinese biopharma companies are looking at both China and global opportunities for their products. While Western drug licensing to Chinese firms has dominated the landscape over the last ten years, more and more domestic Chinese drug firms are now out-licensing their drugs to Western drug companies.
Besides China, Phase I trials are also growing in Japan, Korea, Australia, and India. While cancer Phase I studies dominate in China and Asia, new drugs for infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, respiratory, gastro, and dermatology diseases are also prevalent. Given Asia’s large population, Asia also has the quickest enrollment for phase I studies.