The only chronobiology facility in South-east Asia and the largest early-phase clinical research unit in Singapore was officially launched yesterday by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.
The $20 million SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit (IMU) is located at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) campus. With 32 beds, it is the country’s largest Phase One and Phase Two research centre. (Clinical trials commonly range from Phase One to Phase Four.)
SingHealth said that clinical research was “an area of strong economic growth in Asia”, with the number of clinical trials in Singapore rising 60 per cent between 2007 and 2009.
SingHealth’s deputy chief executive Soo Khee Chee said: “Singapore can play a pivotal role in early-phase drug development, thanks to our strict regulatory framework, reputation for quality research, diverse ethnic population, and our clinicians’ medical expertise.”
Funding for the IMU from SingHealth, the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences and the National Medical Research Council began in early 2009 and will last five years.
The IMU is already conducting over 20 clinical trials, of which two-fifths were initiated by local clinician scientists. The rest were begun by pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Bayer Schering Pharma.
Bayer’s medical director Jerry Chng told The Business Times that Bayer is running two Phase One studies at the SingHealth IMU: one oncology-related, and the other cardiology-related.