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Pharmaceutical research in Thailand

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Thailand needs to develop its own community of scientists to better collaborate & compete in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) starting in 2015. 

chemistry

For some real-life examples of research, read a previous article about international chemistry awards given to Thai women chemists here.

One of the awards was given to a Thai researcher for the development of a drug delivery system that uses nanotechnology ("encapsulation technology based on lipid nano carriers") and another award to a Thai researcher who developed a clinical diagnostic tool for birth defects (congenital anomalies) and genetic diseases that uses a tool from genetics called genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array.

Pharmacology
, the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug or pharmaceutical action, is one important application of chemistry and also one of the "basic sciences" that doctors must study in medical school.

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MEDICINE: Merck urges more R&D from state by Soonya Vanichkorn


Thailand must encourage home-grown scientists to be more involved in research and development to help its pharmaceutical industry grow, especially once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) kicks off in 2015.

"If the government wants to see growth in the pharmaceutical sector, it has to recognise the scientific community. It needs to offer jobs for research scientists so that they can do full-time research here and provide funds for local research through universities," said Aman Bhattacharjee, the managing director of Merck Thailand, a unit of the German pharmaceutical and chemical company.

Otherwise these talents will go elsewhere, especially to places like Singapore and Malaysia or even the UK or US, where there are higher labour costs.

Once they go, they will not come back, he said.

The Thai pharmaceutical market had been growing at 8-9% until 2006-07.

But the rate slowed to a mere 2% or US$4.4 billion in volume by last year due to pressure on prices and control over releases of new molecules.

"Of equal importance, the government also needs to provide a lot of incentives for investments in R&D and opportunities for new products to be introduced," he said.

Thailand's investment in R&D is one of the lowest in Asean, at about 0.2% of GDP compared with 2% and 1% in Singapore and Malaysia, respectively.

The Vietnamese pharmaceutical market is growing a lot more, as they offer products that are cheap and encourage companies to invest in R&D, said Mr Bhattacharjee.

"These are the basics, without which the market will not grow higher than 2-3%," he said

There are also a lot of restrictions in the pharmaceutical field that makes further investments in Thailand very difficult, as it can take up to two years to introduce new products for instance.

If higher growth is expected in Thailand, there should be a level playing field to make it easier for companies to invest, said Mr Bhattacharjee. 

Merck expects continued double-digit growth this year and is optimistic about the AEC, believing it will create greater harmonisation and more regional opportunities for Thailand.

(Source: Bangkok Post, MEDICINE, Merck urges more R&D from state, 27/01/2012, Soonya Vanichkorn, link

Pharmaceutical Industry Vocabulary

Merck - a large international pharmaceutical company famous for the Merck Manual for doctors and veterinarians (See Wikipedia)

pharmaceutical - connected with the production of medicines เกี่ยวกับเภสัชกรรม, เกี่ยวกับยา
pharmaceutical market
pharmaceutical industry
the pharmaceutical field

pharmacology -
the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug and pharmaceutical action (See Wikipedia)

sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
pharmaceutical sector - all the companies producing drugs (pharmaceuticals) to treat diseases 

research - studying something and trying to find out (discover) new facts about it, by doing scientific experiments, for example การวิจัย (See Wikipedia)
do full-time research - when a scientist's job is to do research (not just something they do on the side, part-time)

research and development (R&D) - using scientific research to develop new products and ways of manufacturing products (See Wikipedia)
investment - taking your money and putting it into projects to make a profit or earn interest (buying stock shares, bonds, real estate)
investment in R&D

urge - ask or request strongly that something happen
state
- government รัฐ
Merck urges more R&D from state

Asean Economic Community (AEC) - a plan for the economic integration of ASEAN states by 2015 with a gradual elimination of barriers to trade and investment in the region (See introduction)
kicks off - starts

home-grown scientists - scientists who became scientists in the country (here: Thailand, rather than Thais who went to study abroad, perhaps staying on at the advanced western country where there was work for them and they could make a contribution (brain drain), becoming a scientist in the foreign country, not their own country)  
encourage - make people interested in and excited about doing an activity; give energy to continue doing activity, motivate, give confidence ปลุกใจ

Thailand must encourage home-grown scientists to be more involved in research and development to help its pharmaceutical industry grow, especially once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) kicks off in 2015.

delivery system of drugs - a method or process of administering a pharmaceutical compound to achieve a therapeutic effect in humans or animals: "Drug delivery technologies modify drug release profile, absorption, distribution and elimination for the benefit of improving product efficacy and safety, as well as patient convenience and compliance. ... Most common routes of administration include ... through the mouth, topical (skin), transmucosal (nasal, buccal/sublingual, vaginal, ocular and rectal) and inhalation routes" (See Wikipedia)

nanotechnology - "the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres. Quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale" (See Wikipedia)

clinical diagnostic tool - a laboratory test used by doctors to identify and diagnose diseases and medical disorders

congenital anomalies
- birth defects, when a baby is born with some structure in their body that is not normal (See Wikipedia)

genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array
- a DNA microarray used to study the whole genome of a living thing (See Wikipedia)

DNA microarray -
is a collection of microscopic DNA spots attached to a solid surface that is used to do many experiments at the same time, also commonly known as gene chip, DNA chip, or biochip (See Wikipedia)

genome -
"in modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA" (See Wikipedia)

genetic diseases - "an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes, especially a condition that is present from before birth. Most genetic disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions" (See Wikipedia)

recognise - to give praise or approval to someone or something เป็นที่ชื่นชม ยกย่อง
community - all the people who live in a place and know each other (haev something in common and are friends)
scientific community - the group of all scientists (who work together, review and criticize each other's work, duplicate and check each other's experiments) (See Wikipedia)
recognise the scientific community - support the scientific community (with money, new research projects as well as jobs, research and teaching positions at universities and in government)

provide - to give someone something that they want or need
funds - an amount of money kept for a special purpose เงินทุน
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
provide funds for local research through universities

If the government wants to see growth in the pharmaceutical sector, it has to recognise the scientific community. It needs to offer jobs for research scientists so that they can do full-time research here and provide funds for local research through universities

talents -
people with skills in a particular area (job, research, music, art, etc)
Otherwise these talents will go elsewhere, especially to places like Singapore and Malaysia or even the UK or US, where there are higher labour costs. Once they go, they will not come back, he said.

rate - the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period อัตรา
mere - not large or important เพียงเท่านั้น
volume - the quantity or amount of something
pressure - a force causing change

The Thai pharmaceutical market had been growing at 8-9% until 2006-07. But the rate slowed to a mere 2% or US$4.4 billion in volume by last year due to pressure on prices and control over releases of new molecules.

incentives - a reward to encourage people to do something สิ่งกระตุ้น รางวัล ผลตอบแทน
opportunities - situations in which it is possible to do what you want or need to do
Of equal importance, the government also needs to provide a lot of incentives for investments in R&D and opportunities for new products to be introduced

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - the total value of all the goods and services produced by a country in one year (See Wikipedia)
Thailand's investment in R&D is one of the lowest in Asean, at about 0.2% of GDP compared with 2% and 1% in Singapore and Malaysia, respectively. The Vietnamese pharmaceutical market is growing a lot more, as they offer products that are cheap and encourage companies to invest in R&D

introduce new products

There are also a lot of restrictions in the pharmaceutical field that makes further investments in Thailand very difficult, as it can take up to two years to introduce new products for instance.

expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
level playing field - when everyone faces the same conditions in a competition (no one has an extra advantage that others do not have)
If higher growth is expected in Thailand, there should be a level playing field to make it easier for companies to invest

double - to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
digit - any one of the ten numbers 0 to 9 ตัวเลข (0 ถึง 9)
double-digit growth - growing (getting bigger) at a rate of 10% or more
optimistic - hopeful about the future; expecting good things to happen มองในแง่ดี มองโลกในแง่ดี feel that the future will be good มีทัศนคติที่ดี มองเหตุการณ์อย่างมีหวัง
harmony - when the parts of a whole work together well (in a pleasant whole)
harmonisation -
the process of making gthe parts of a whole work together well (here: the different ASEAN states working together)

Merck expects continued
double-digit growth this year and is optimistic about the AEC, believing it will create greater harmonisation and more regional opportunities for Thailand.

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