Thailand’s Biopharm Industry Makes Use of Robust Cold-Chain Infrastructure
The government of Thailand has embarked on a program called Thailand 4.0 which encourages investments in advanced industries that make use of automation, robotics, and digitization.
Two companies that fall under that umbrella—Siam Bioscience, a biotechnology company, and CPRAM, a food processor—also have something else in common: they rely on investments in Thailand’s cold chain logistics infrastructure.
Siam Bioscience, a company founded in 2009 and owned by CPB Equity Co., a quasi-governmental agency, specializes in manufacturing complex proteins that are used to manufacture biologic drugs for testing and commercial use. One market research firm ranked Siam Bioscience among the top 20 firms in the world for cell culture media.
CPRAM operates a highly automated factory that produces ready-to-eat Thai foods that are consumed locally and exported to the ASEAN region and beyond.
Siam Bioscience, a company that exports globally, produces many products which require temperature controls during transport and storage. Dr. Songpon Deechongkit, the company’s managing director, credits the Thai food industry, for driving the development of the country’s cold chain infrastructure.
“The cold chain infrastructure in Thailand is pretty good driven by the food industry,” he said.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that cold-chain infrastructure is build out throughout the world. China, for example, is a country that has a growing demand for fresh food, yet hasn’t made the required cold-chain investments. According to a report from a European bank that studied the issue, “China’s demand for fresh, safe and high-quality food is outstripping its capacity to produce and deliver domestically…China’s cold chain sector is still lagging and needs to improve in terms of both quality and capacity.”
Pharmaceutical products are also often temperature-sensitive and require the controls applicable to other perishables. A new host of biologic and human plasma-based drugs, such as the ones Siam Bioscience contributes to, require attention from the cold chain. These drugs must be kept in controlled environments and have very specific shelf-lives, often tied to the temperature and humidity of their surroundings.
Siam Bioscience has developed two biopharmaceutical products, one for treating aaemia in patients with kidney failure and the other for reducing the risk of infection among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. A new plant currently under development will launch six biopharmaceuticals for cancer and auto-immune diseases when it goes into operation in 2020.
The company supplies its products to ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, and Cambodia. It also will apply for registration in Singapore and Malaysia next year. “We also plan to export to Latin America from our joint venture with a Cuban firm,” said Apiporn Pasawat, the company’s executive chairman. The company targets 70 per cent of its sales revenue to come from exports within five years.