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Oct 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 18)

Chinese Biopharma Industry Gaining Clout

Commitment from Local Firms and Government to Refine Operations Yielding Results Rapidly

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    China’s current biologic drug market is about 65% therapeutic proteins. The remainder of the market is made up of blood products, mAbs, and bioanalytical products.

    The development of biologics has gradually become a key focus of almost all drug companies worldwide, large or small, major or startup. The global value of the biologics market has been growing rapidly in the past decade and, more importantly, it is poised to continue to grow at an even faster pace in the foreseeable future.

    Although the biopharmaceutical industry in China got a late start, it has posted great gains in the last decade as well. With a significant amount of capital being invested by government at various levels, the country’s industrial infrastructure is being transformed at break-neck speed.

    Infrastructure improvements, an influx of returnees, readily available funding from various sources, and the entrance of a growing number of experienced multinational biopharma companies all have contributed to the fast growth of China’s biopharmaceutical industry. However, as the Chinese biopharmaceutical industry increases its international presence, the quality of its biologics and the capabilities of its CROs and CMOs are of increasing concern.

    There are close to 1,000 bio-related companies in China; they are spread  throughout the country and about half of them were established in the last five years. The majority are, thus, small in terms of personnel and sales revenue. About half of these start-ups are R&D-focused companies that were established by Chinese returnees or Western biopharmaceutical companies as their China division or subsidiary.

    Among all Chinese bio-companies, about 46% of them are engaged in manufacturing and marketing of biologics, an indication that the industry is still focused on manufacturing. That is changing, however, as more and more major, traditional Chinese pharmaceutical companies enter the biologics field.

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