Clinical development teams looking for outsourcing opportunities in Asia are increasingly turning their attention to smaller emerging markets rather than automatically plumping for established territories such as India and China, a new report says.

While India and China previously drew in clinical trials as the two largest members of the BRIC group of countries (i.e., Brazil, Russia, India and China), improvements in local expertise and regulatory clarity are bringing other markets such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines to the fore, notes the report by Cutting Edge Information, Emerging Markets Clinical Trials: Asia.

Many executives familiar with emerging markets now see the potential benefits of conducting clinical research in Asian countries other than India and China in view of each market's unique qualities, Cutting Edge Information points out.

"India and China opened the door for pharma companies to consider focusing on Asia for large parts of their clinical development strategy," comments chief operating officer Adam Bianchi. "Now we see a more sophisticated breakdown of country-by-country benefits and costs.”

A large company profiled in the report, for example, has seen clear advantages to running trials in the Philippines.

One of the company's investigational compounds was approved for a new indication on the basis of clinical data in which 30% of patients were enrolled for trials in the Philippines, Cutting Edge Information says.

“The Philippines has a relatively long history and the company found that the country's regulatory environment and medical infrastructure offer a solid base for clinical research.” it adds.