China becoming major opportunity for Indian drug makers

Wednesday, 25 June 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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BEIJING: China's economic boom and its entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will help Indian drug makers to tap the growing demand for advanced healthcare needs in the world's most populous country.

China is expected to emerge as the fifth-largest pharmaceutical market in the world with revenues of over $24 billion -- more than triple its current size -- by 2010, according to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimates.

"Best positioned to fill these needs are Indian companies, which possess superior R&D capabilities as well as scale and experience in marketing, distribution and sales," said the CII study report on Chinese industrial sectors.

Senior officials from the Indian pharmaceutical industry are currently visiting China as part of a high-level Indian business delegation accompanying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who arrived here Sunday on a six-day visit.

A few Indian pharmaceutical companies such as Aurobindo Pharmaceutical, Lupin, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and Orchid Pharmaceutical have already made their presence in the vast Chinese market.

But CII says more and more Indian drug makers must move forward more aggressively as changing regulations and economics open the window of opportunity.

"That means better anticipating the needs of the market as it evolves in order to build true local capabilities as well as relationships with regulators and distributors," said the Indian industry lobby group.

Industry observers say as China and its economy modernise, demand for advanced healthcare would increase and with it healthcare expenditures.

The population will move beyond the basic anti-infective treatments common in China today to embrace drugs that will improve the quality of their lives.

According to CII, after its entry into WTO in December 2001, China is expected to bring the country's regulations and distribution networks in line with world-class standards over the next five years.

Under the WTO guidelines, China will have to enhance its protection of intellectual property rights, reduce import tariff on pharmaceuticals, increase foreign participation in the drug distribution industry and comply fully with global regulatory standards.

"Significant changes will sweep China in the wake of its entry into WTO, thereby providing foreign players with new opportunities in healthcare," said CII.

The report says Indian companies seeking to stake a claim in China will also need to hire more systematically and train more intensively the human resources they deploy "on the ground".

"By understanding local realities, Indian companies will view China more accurately as a burgeoning opportunity that will take a few years and some investment before it blossoms fully."
Source: IANS
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