Singapore

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It's just three-and-a-half times the size of Washington, DC, but don't let that fool you. Singapore could be considered the nucleus of clinical research in the Asia-Pacific region, as a Frost & Sullivan study showed. With mainland China and the Korean peninsula to the north, and Australia and Oceania to the south, it is a natural hub for manufacturers and clinicians, ACRO's Lewis says. As for infrastructure, Singapore possesses the best healthcare system in Asia, the World Health Organization says, and the 6th best in the world.

It also has a government keen to promote clinical work; in recent years, it has invested $1.1 billion into translational and biomarker research. Plus, its stringent intellectual-property laws and good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines offer a sense of security and assurance to pharma clients.

Of course, being such a compact city-state, Singapore's patient pool is only so big, Frost & Sullivan points out. With its small population, clinical trial opportunities there are limited to Phase I and II work, leaving heavily populated China and India to grab the bulk of late-stage trials.

Singapore will likely never outshine China and India in the clinical research field. However, the Singaporean government recognizes its limitations and, instead, focuses on its strengths.