Sector News

China pharma poised for explosive growth, Novartis CEO says

April 19, 2017
Life sciences

As drugmakers face growth challenges in the U.S. and other developed countries, China is looking more enticing to one CEO. Novartis chief Joe Jimenez thinks the market is set for a boom period as the industry launches a wave of new meds in the country.

Already the second-largest pharma market in the world, Jimenez told Bloomberg that pharma sales in China could pass $300 billion by 2020. That will happen as regulators in the country push to offer new drugs to sick patients who’ve traditionally not had access to the world’s groundbreaking meds.

Last month, officials in China proposed a slate of changes to the country’s drug approval process to speed foreign drug approvals by loosening testing rules. Traditionally, drugmakers have faced high barriers to entry in China centered around local drug testing.

But with those laws set for a change, Big Pharma is taking notice.

Gilead, for one, hired a former Roche exec last fall to oversee hepatitis C drug launches in China, where there are about 30 million patients. Earlier this month, the company disclosed on a recruitment website it’s building its first ex-U.S. manufacturing site in the country, declining to disclose any other details.

For its part, Pfizer last fall started rebuilding a China sales outfit on the heels of a new approval for its megablockbuster pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar 13. The company previously abandoned its vaccines business in the country after officials there declined to renew an import license for the vaccine’s predecessor Prevnar.

Novartis recently won Chinese approvals for kidney cancer med Votrient and myelofibrosis med Jakavi, according to Bloomberg, while Roche secured an approval for melanoma drug Zelboraf and AstraZeneca gained a nod for lung cancer therapy Tagrisso.

With authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere keeping a keen eye on pharma pricing and costs, several drugmakers have enjoyed strong growth in China. Notably, AstraZeneca posted a 10% sales increase there in 2016 to $2.6 billion, while Novo Nordisk was able to notch a 5.9% increase to $1.5 billion.

According to the International Trade Association, the Chinese pharma market was worth $108 billion in 2015. The group says the country is “one of the most promising for U.S. exports in the long-term given its size and growth potential.”

Of course, cost remains an issue in China, with more than 1.3 billion people living in the country and many of them with very low incomes. Government officials are continuously looking for ways to limit spending and drive costs down.

By Eric Sagonowsky

Source: Fierce Pharma

comments closed

Related News

January 22, 2023

Sun Pharma to buy Concert Pharmaceuticals for $576m

Life sciences

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has signed a definitive agreement to buy all outstanding shares of Concert Pharmaceuticals in a deal valued at $576m. Under the deal, the company will buy all shares of Concert common stock through a tender offer for $8.00 per share in cash upfront payment.

January 22, 2023

Novo Nordisk diabetes pill wins FDA approval for first-line use

Life sciences

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Novo Nordisk’s diabetes pill Rybelsus as an initial treatment to lower blood sugar levels, a label expansion that will allow it to compete more directly with other oral drugs from Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly.

January 22, 2023

Bayer feeling more heat from activist investors, this time from Bluebell

Life sciences

Since making an ill-advised $63 billion buy of Monsanto in 2018, Bayer has faced heaps of pressure from investors that have called for the company to oust its leadership and to restructure. Now comes new pressure from a familiar source. Bluebell Capital Partners has bought an undisclosed stake in the company and is agitating for a breakup, sources told Reuters.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach