Malaysia's pharmaceutical and healthcare markets continue to show strong growth, and the government's 2014 budget allocation for the healthcare sector supports BMI's optimism towards the market. The country's private healthcare sector is attracting foreign investment and development, which supports the growing medical tourism market. However, the shortage of specialist medical staff and the significant presence of counterfeit drugs are issues the country must overcome to avoid them negatively impacting the industry.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: MYR6.66bn (US$2.11bn) in 2013 to MYR7.30bn (US$2.28bn) in 2014; +9.6% in local currency and +7.9% in US dollars. Forecast increased in light of new budgetary data for 2014.
- Healthcare: MYR38.14bn (US$12.11bn) in 2013 to MYR41.98bn (US$13.12bn) in 2014; +10.1% in local currency and +8.4% in US dollars. Forecast raised from Q4 2013 due to the release of the 2014 budget.
Risk/Reward Rating: In Q2 2014, Malaysia's Pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Rating (RRR) stood at 60, marking no change from Q1 2014. It posts above-average scores for every indicator in the Asia Pacific region, and ranks eighth out of 19 markets.
Key Trends And Developments
The recent Arab Health 2014 healthcare exhibition at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre in the UAE helped Malaysian companies to secure sales of MYR215.3mn (US$64.78mn). The most popular products were hospital beds, medical furniture, medical gas pendants, sutures, in vitro medical devices, endotracheal tube, mobile medicine and stem cell treatment, according to the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade). India, Pakistan, Oman, Iran, China, the UAE, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt showed interest in importing healthcare products from Malaysia.
Malaysia-based private healthcare chain KPJ Healthcare intends to open two new hospitals in H1 2014 in Malaysia. The company plans to open one hospital in Rawang in Q1 2014 and one hospital in Muar in Q2 2014, according to KPJ's President Amiruddin Abdul Satar. The move is part of the company's strategy of setting up 10 new hospitals over five years across the country, with at least two new hospitals planned to be opened every year until 2018. KPJ has earmarked a combined amount of MYR200mn (US$60.07mn) out of its total capital expenditure (capex) for 2014 for establishing the two new hospitals (News Straits Times).
US-based networking equipment firm Cisco Systems is reportedly targeting the Malaysian healthcare sector as one of its key priorities for 2014. The move, which is part of the company's broader strategy for 2014, is driven by rising demand for smart healthcare services in the country - which is expected to increase further in the coming year, according to Cisco Systems (Malaysia) Manager Albert Chai.
Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) fear that the agreement will result in as much as a 30% rise in drug prices in Malaysia. However, DAP Kampar MP Ko Chung Sen has urged the return of drug price controls. Ko added that a 2012 study comparing the prices of 10 widely sold prescription drugs in Australia and Malaysia revealed that lack of regulation in the drug retail market has allowed retailers to sell the same drug for more than five times the price in different areas.
BMI Economic View: We view the 2014 budget as a decisive step by policymakers in addressing the country's persistent fiscal deficits and growing indebtedness, and we maintain our forecast for the fiscal deficit to narrow from an estimated 4.9% of GDP in 2013 to 4.3% and 3.6% in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
BMI Political View: A sweeping victory for Prime Minister Najib Razak's political allies within the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) following the latest party election suggests that we could see further progress on fiscal reforms at the upcoming budget announcement on October 25. We have also upgraded Malaysia's short-term political risk rating (STPR) to reflect our view of increased policy continuity on the back of the vote outcome.