Roche Pharmaceuticals Selects Sarawak General Hospital as a Site for Its Global First-in-Human Clinical Trial

PUTRAJAYA, 4 JANUARY 2024 - Roche Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has confirmed Sarawak General Hospital as Site for a First-in-Human (FIH) clinical trial in Malaysia. Roche becomes the first top multinational company to bring its First-in-human trials under a rheumatology indication to Malaysia - a testament to Malaysia’s growing clinical trial capabilities in Asia and only within 2 years from the completion of Clinical Research Malaysia’s (CRM) Phase 1 Realisation Project (P1RP) which enabled the FIH ecosystem in the country.

The announcement was made during CRM’s Clinical Research Excellence in Early Phase and People Development event that was officiated by the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. Following the announcement, Malaysia will be the seventh country included for this study and the first within the Asia Pacific region, joining along other global sites located in Europe and South Africa.

“Malaysia’s clinical trial ecosystem has developed rapidly with over 2300 clinical research conducted since 2012. CRM through its P1RP initiative have overseen the development of the country’s early phase ecosystem, to enable safe and regulated conduct of early phase research especially FIH trials. Following the completion of P1RP in 2021, Malaysia has conducted one FIH and two First-in-Patient studies, with Roche’s study being the first FIH in Malaysia under a rheumatology indication,” said Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly during his speech.

The FIH trial is on a new experimental drug to treat patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune condition that affects joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. The study is led by Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr Teh Cheng Lay and will be conducted in SGH’s Clinical Research Centre, which is an accredited FIH facility under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.

“SLE predominantly affects women aged between 15-50 years old as the group makes up to 80% of the over 10,000 people diagnosed with SLE in Malaysia. There is a need to explore new treatment options that provide minimal side effects, as many SLE patients develop other underlying health complications due to this chronic illness. Hence, we are excited to have Sarawak General Hospital selected among the other competing global institutions, in being a part of this study. I believe with our experience and resources, we would contribute to pertinent safety data of this experimental drug amongst the Asian population,” said Dr Teh when asked about the study.

“One aspect of concern for women with SLE is its potential impact on fertility and pregnancy. At Roche, women’s health is a priority for us, as we aim to develop tailored solutions to improve women's quality of life, and also empower women to take charge of their well-being through education, early detection, and personalized care. Driven by our purpose in ‘Doing now what patients need next,’ we trust that through collaboration, integrity, courage and a passion for discovery, we are able to push the boundaries of what is possible, especially for patients, which is at the core of everything we do,” said Deepti Saraf, the General Manager of Roche (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.

To-date in Malaysia, Roche has launched 33 late phase clinical trials in breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, hematology, diabetes, cardiovascular, rheumatology, hepatocellular carcinoma. Since 2012 Roche have invested around RM190 million in clinical trials in Malaysia.

“Going a step further, we are thrilled that we are expanding our geographical footprint for the early phase, first-in-human clinical trials in Malaysia. Working together with CRM and SGH’s Clinical Research Centre, we are especially committed to further strengthen clinical research and clinical trial capability here in the country. We are confident with the clinical research talent and infrastructure in the country and look forward to working with Dr Teh and her team to discover new modalities in treating SLE. With this monumental milestone, we also believe Malaysia is in a great place with its diverse population and capable clinical trial workforce to contribute to global health outcomes," Deepti added.

About Roche

Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, as well as growing capabilities in the area of data-driven medical insights help Roche deliver truly personalised healthcare. Roche is working with partners across the healthcare sector to provide the best care for each person.

Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management. In recent years, Roche has invested in genomic profiling and real-world data partnerships and has become an industry-leading partner for medical Insights.

Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. The company also aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. More than thirty medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and cancer medicines. Moreover, for the twelfth consecutive year, Roche has been recognised as one of the most sustainable companies in the Pharmaceuticals Industry by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is active in over 100 countries and in 2020 employed more than 100,000 people worldwide. In 2020, Roche invested CHF 12.2 billion in R&D and posted sales of CHF 58.3 billion. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit.

Roche has been present in Malaysia since 1972, when the sales and distribution of products was managed by a third party distributor. Since then, Roche has established its operations to include Roche (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., the pharmaceutical business; Roche Diagnostics (M) Sdn. Bhd., the diagnostics business and Roche Services (Asia Pacific) Sdn. Bhd. (also referred to as Roche Services & Solutions APAC). With a total staff strength of over 1,200, Roche has grown into one of the leading healthcare companies in Malaysia that provides holistic healthcare solutions to healthcare practitioners and patients. For more information, please visit

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About Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM)

Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) is a Global Trusted Research Management Organisation established by the Ministry of Health Malaysia in 2012. The organisation is guided by the principles of Humanity, Stability and Sustainability in providing global clinical trial solutions and enabling a thriving clinical research ecosystem in the country. At its very core, CRM aims to bring clinical research that addresses the unmet needs of patients and transforms health outcomes in Malaysia.

CRM delivers sponsored clinical trials with Speed, Reliability and Quality through operational excellence and working with stakeholders by providing end-to-end clinical research support services. Certified with both ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System) and ISO 37001:2016 (Anti-Bribery Management System), and being aligned to international regulations, our core values and code of conduct are ingrained throughout CRM. The strength of this organisation lies in the people of CRM as we strive in our vision to make Malaysia the preferred clinical research hub in Asia.

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