News >Bizchina

China lures global drug makers

2010-09-20 14:26

World's leading pharmaceutical companies are eyeing China for future growth in the face of expiring patents, a dwindling pipeline of new drugs and rising costs, Reuters reported Friday.

Now the world's second largest economy, China is expected to become the world's third-largest pharmaceutical market by 2011, from ninth in 2003, according to IMS Health Inc.

The country's pharmaceuticals market generated total revenues of $23,796.9 million in 2009, representing a compound annual growth rate of 20.1 percent for the period spanning 2005-2009, according to US research company Market and Research.

Markets aside, China is also appealing to western drug makers for its drug research units, many headed by Chinese scientists who have returned after years of studying and working in the West, according to Reuters.

Research chiefs of major drug companies told Reuters that intense competition and high costs make it harder to support the old way of drug research -- when firms kept large teams of in-house researchers and waited for results.

More over, the imminent prospect of a large number of drug patents set to expire also adds a sense of urgency to their search for partners.

Bradley Marchant, Pfizer Inc's head of clinical development in Asia told Reuters that Pfizer would be interested in collaborating with partners in China on liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, and cancer.

"We have to seek the best science and technology ... we will be doing more and more external innovation," Reuters cited Lily Lee, vice-president and head of Johnson & Johnson's Pharmaceutical R&D Asia.

By "external innovation", Lee meant teaming up with local biotech companies and research institutes to share risks and costs.

China's research outfits are increasingly seen by western pharmaceutical giants as ideal working partners, said Reuters, as they can carry out tests for early diagnosis through detection, and conduct clinical trials for drug firms.

Related News: