On October 9, Australia's biotech community completed its
annual pilgrimage to Melbourne at the conclusion of Australia
Biotech Invest 2015 and AusBiotech 2015. This year's
conferences once again evidenced the primacy and importance of the
biotech industry in Australia and the significant interconnections
between Australia's research universities, primary care
facilities and private concerns. For example, there is a federal
government tax incentive allowing for a 45 percent tax credit for
eligible R&D expenses, which has contributed to the growth of
Australia's clinical trial expertise and its globally
recognized drug, development and discovery practices.
One interesting aspect of Australia's biotech industry is
the reliance by Australian companies on the Australian public
markets to finance early-stage development. The Australian Stock
Exchange lists over 100 publically traded biotech companies, from
CSL Limited with a market capitalization of more than AUS$42
billion to a number of companies with market capitalizations of
less than AUS$30 million. Due to a lack of a deep venture capital
market, Australian firms continue to seek venture capital funding
from US and European firms as well as partnerships and
collaboration with US and European-based large pharma firms. In
addition, Australian firms are gaining a sophistication regarding
accessing US government funding in the form of non-dilutive
capital. Australian firms have a keen appetite for unlocking the
various regulatory paths for obtaining funding.
The Australian market also is following global market trends in
the significant increase in digital medicine and precision
medicine. For example, Adherium is focused on developing,
manufacturing and supplying digital health technologies that
address sub-optimal medication use. Clarity Pharmaceuticals is a
privately held company which is focused on personalized medicine
technologies to deliver targeted treatments of serious diseases.
ResApp Health utilizes smartphone medical applications for the
diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases. Each of these
companies, and their competitors, are acting at the intersection of
health care and technology, bringing paradigm changes to treatment
effectiveness. As these products come to market they will face
regulatory, privacy and commercial challenges, which will be
particularly acute given the complex layers of overlapping and
conflicting regulation in Europe and the United States.
Finally, China's importance as a market for Australia pharma
continues to grow and become more complex. Australian companies
face regulatory, cultural and legal hurdles as they bring their
products to market in China. However, given their proximity to this
market and the spirit of partnership developing between the two
countries, Australian pharma companies seem primed to benefit from
this massive potential market, and they may have some distinct
advantages over their American and European competitors.
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