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Chen Hongmin: Entry of India's 'King of Generic Drugs' will trigger a 'catfish effect'

Office of Alumni and External Relations 2019-11-14

The King of Generic Drugs of India is coming! With the successful hosting of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE), the spillover effect has been expanding continuously! AstraZeneca announced at the CIIE to formally sign a partnership agreement with Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., an India-based pharmaceutical giant. This, however, is not an individual case. This year’s CIIE provided a platform of global debut for many well-known pharmaceutical companies at home and abroad, with more than 100 new global health solutions unveiled and many interested pharmaceutical companies in talks for further cooperation.

“Openness” is now turning into a symbol of China’s pharmaceutical market, and the business environment is constantly improving and becoming the highlight of the whole Chinese market. In addition, the State Drug Administration has been accelerating the examination and approval procedures and constantly innovating its approval and regulatory policies. So more innovative medicines, medical apparatuses and instruments are expected to enter China at a faster pace and benefit more Chinese patients, while promoting the innovation of Chinese medicine enterprises.

Chinese patients are given access to Indian anti-cancer drugs

Carl Sundram, a director of Sun Pharmaceutical, said he was excited to “see the immense potential of trying to bring Sun Pharmaceutical’s patented and generic drugs to the new market of China”. Founded in 1983, Sun Pharmaceutical may be not heard by the Chinese public, but it was once known as India’s “King of Generic Drugs”. Now it owns a number of self-developed drugs, with a presence in more than 100 countries around the world.

Upon its entry into the Chinese market, the India’s “King of Generic Drugs” will first introduce a number of anti-cancer products. This has sent a positive signal for China-India cooperation in the field of health, and demonstrated the infinite possibilities of connectivity in the health sector under the Belt and Road Initiative.

As analyzed by Prof. Chen Hongmin, Deputy Director of the Institute of Industry Research (IIR), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), “The recent presence of Indian pharmaceutical companies in the Chinese market has made a great difference, including, primarily, energizing the continued reduction in prices of generic drugs.” China’s pharmaceutical market is a typical “policy-driven market” this year, which means policies are frequently issued to allow the Chinese patients to have more access to affordable and high-quality drugs.

According to Prof. Chen, both the previous successful bidding of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in the new round of “4+7” procurement with target quantity, and the entry of AstraZeneca in partnership with India’s Sun Pharmaceutical into the Chinese market have provided new impetus for the next-step development of the Chinese generic drug market, because they will bring us with affordable and high-quality generic drugs.

Set up a benchmark for the transformation and development of Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises

From the perspective of industry experts, the entry of India’s “King of Generic Drugs” not only provides the Chinese patients with more access to cheaper anti-cancer drugs, but also inspires the transformation and development of Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises.

“It is indeed a good move to introduce generics from the overseas market, such as Indian pharmaceutical companies. For quite a few Chinese pharmaceutical companies, they are more aligned with those generic-focused companies like India’s Sun Pharmaceutical than major international players with strong R&D capabilities like AstraZeneca.” Chen analyzed that more than 5,000 pharmaceutical companies in China are still focusing on production of low-end active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and generic drugs. One of the important goals of China’s pharmaceutical industry reform is to foster a group of companies with the mass production capability of affordable and high-quality generics that can be sold at home and abroad.

According to industry insiders, the entry of Sun Pharmaceutical means further opening-up of domestic pharmaceutical market. It will also trigger a certain “catfish effect” on this market due to its 10-odd years of experience in the international market and its knowledge of the regulatory rules about launch of drugs.

The “world debut” drugs and medical devices are accelerating their entry into China

India is not the only “catfish” that is entering the Chinese pharmaceutical market. “Openness” is a renewed impression of almost all foreign executives of multinational pharmaceutical companies on the Chinese pharmaceutical market.

According to Julio Gay-Ger, President & General Manager of Eli Lilly China, five new products and three new indications of Lilly have been approved in the past year, at a “Chinese speed” never seen before. For example, Lilly’s innovative medicine for psoriasis, Taltz, which has made its debut at this CIIE, was just approved for market launch by the State Drug Administration this September. Since its listing as one of the first batch of 48 overseas new drugs in urgent clinical need in China last year, this innovative medicine only took 6 months from filing new drug application to approval.

Against the general background of accelerated approval by the State Drug Administration, more innovative drugs and medical devices in the healthcare field are accelerating their entry into China, and the lead time between development and launch is also approaching zero. To facilitate the “accelerated launch” of innovative drugs and devices in China, Shanghai Municipal Administration for Market Regulation set up a booth at the CIIE to provide one-stop policy consulting services on drugs, devices and cosmetics, etc.

According to Shanghai Municipal Drug Administration, it is tracking the application progress of a series of new drugs and new devices on the market, and will continue to promote the reform of review and approval system of medicines and medical devices, and contribute to the building of an innovation hub of bio-pharmaceutical industry in Shanghai; and in the meantime, it will strictly control quality to ensure the availability of safe and good medicines, devices and technologies to the citizens.