Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/09/2014 -- Belgium's economy is gradually beginning to recover, and while we expect that widespread cuts and austerity measures will hold back growth in the pharmaceuticals market in the short term, the healthcare market should begin to show signs of recovery in the short term. One of the factors supporting the sector is Belgium's advanced R&D industry. It is a European hub for clinical trials, new drug development and niche research and this attracts the attention of multinational firms. The handful of partnerships and research agreements signed over the past three months illustrate Belgium's appeal to foreign pharma firms. In terms of the domestic market, per capita spending on pharmaceuticals may be high, but it is subjected to continual downward pressure - a fact that is creating opportunities for growth for manufacturers of generic drugs.
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Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: EUR5.89bn (US$7.48bn) in 2012 to EUR5.79bn (US$7.71bn) in 2013; -1.6% in local currency terms and +3.0% in US dollar terms. Local currency forecast virtually unchanged from Q413.
- Healthcare: EUR40.09bn (US$50.92bn) in 2012 to EUR40.70bn (US$54.13bn) in 2013; +1.5% in local currency terms and +6.3% in US dollar terms. Local currency forecast unchanged from Q413.
Risk/Reward Rating: In our latest Pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Rating (RRR) assessment, Belgium fell two places in the regional table, ranking eight out of the thirteen markets surveyed in the Western European region. Belgium scores above regional average scores for every indicator, with the exception of Country Risk, where its small population size limits opportunities.
Key Trends And Developments
- Belgium's Ablynz and Swiss biotech firm Merck Serono announced in September 2013 that they had entered into a research alliance. Under the terms of the agreement, Ablynx will receive funding from Merck Serono and the two will select disease targets together. A month later, Ablynx announced plans to present pre-clinical proof of concept data from ALX-0761, a nanobody developed through a partnership with Merck Serono, for rheumatoid arthritis.
- In September 2013, Belgium's Galapagos entered into a global alliance with AbbVie for the development of therapies for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. The two firms aim to build potentiators and correctors discovered by Galapagos and expand the range of molecules with a view to begin Phase 1 clinical trials for oral drugs for cystic fibrosis by end-2014.
- Regulatory changes, introduced in December 2012 and implemented in end-June 2013, mean that hospital pharmacists must now pass a three-year training period, rather than the previous one-year recognition system.
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