2023-07-24| Policy

2023 Precision Medicine Industry Policy White Paper Paves the Way for the Biotechnology in Taiwan

by Oscar Wu
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According to the “2023 Precision Medicine Industry Policy White Paper” published by the Precision Medicine Industry Association of Taiwan (PMIA) in 2023. PMIA has proposed five policies to be recommended by the government and industry based on the principles of precision medicine.

Related article: Taiwan’s Biotech Brilliance Shines at BIO 2023: Unveiling Cutting-Edge Discoveries and Strategic Partnerships

Milestones of Precision Medicine from USA to Taiwan

Former President Obama announced in January 2015 the launch of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which seeks to tailor disease treatments according to patients’ unique characteristics and needs. ‘What if matching a cancer cure to our genetic code was just as easy, just as standard? What if figuring out the right dose of medicine was as simple as taking our temperature?’ said Obama.

Following the PMI, the Cancer Moonshot was also launched the following year, in 2016, under the leadership of then Vice-President Joe Biden. Cancer prevention, vaccine development, immunotherapy, and genomics are among the aspects of the project. 

In Taiwan, the government has included precision medicine as part of the industrial innovation plan since 2017. Based on this policy, Taiwan Precision Medicine Initiative (TPMI) hosted by Academic Sinica and in alliance with 16 partner hospitals across the country, has an ambition to obtain genetic profiles of 1 million patients from medical centers across Taiwan.

Under the guidance of the “5+2 Industrial Innovation Program” by the Executive Yuan and the six core strategic industries outlined by President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s precision health development has laid a solid foundation and possesses certain advantages for future development. In 2021, Taiwan was ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region in the “Personalized Health Index (PHC Index)” by The Economist, just after Singapore.

Five Policies Serve as the Cornerstones to Facilitate Precision Medicine in Taiwan

According to PMIA’s White Paper, the five proposed policies are as follows:

1. Utilizing precision medicine for resource reallocation to enhance public health status.

Taiwan became an aging society in 1993, and by 2025, it is estimated that it will enter a super-aging society. The proportion of the elderly population to the total population will continue to increase, which is estimated to exceed 30% in 2039. Therefore, healthcare costs are expected to increase. To address this, we should consider leveraging precision health to optimize the allocation of medical resources, improving the accessibility of precision medicine to enhance overall public health.

2. Incorporating the NGS testing into the National Health Insurance to get in line with global trends.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) have incorporated NGS testing into treatment guidelines for various cancer types in recent years. Countries like South Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom have also partially covered NGS testing through their healthcare systems in 2017, 2019, and 2021, respectively.

3. Promoting the large-scale population sequencing projects based on Taiwan’s advantages of technology to establish the solid basis of precision medicine.

Through the analysis of population genetics and health big data, we can identify disease risk factors and corresponding genes among Taiwanese individuals. This will enable individuals with high-risk genes to take preventive measures early, thus improving and enhancing the health of the entire population.

4. Optimizing the applying procedures and management system of LDTs certification for medical institutes to get certified more efficiently.

By streamlining the application process and unifying the review standards for LDTs, we can enhance the testing capabilities and speed of precision health, while also reducing the cost of testing. This will enable healthcare institutions to offer optimal services and quality, aligning with outsourced laboratories.

5. Consolidating the environment for the sustainable development of healthcare big-data.

The government should promptly establish an independent agency to standardize and integrate health data operations. This will accelerate the integration and utilization of data while creating a comprehensive regulatory environment for secure health data application and the sustainable development of health big data.

In conclusion, the White Paper not only promotes the interaction between the government, industry and research institutes, but also clarifies the challenges and opportunities in precision medicine.

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