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China & India to lead world’s pharma business


May 24, 2007: The pharmaceutical industry in the Asian region is poised to be the centre of the global market. Most pharmaceutical companies in China and India expect this shift to happen rapidly as the region is poised to become the world's largest market for medicines and a powerhouse for both production and research, says a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report, Gearing up for a Global Gravity Shift, is based on in-depth interviews with senior pharmaceutical executives across nine different territories in the region; China, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the survey, majority of the companies believe the centre of gravity of the global pharmaceutical market will be in Asia rather than North America and Europe in the near future, a confidence shared by domestic companies and multinational companies (MNCs) alike.

76% of multinationals surveyed expressed concerns over IP issues and 60% over corrupt practices in the region. Nevertheless, a third of multinationals plan to expand in the region over the next 12 months with the acquisition of their own 'greenfield' sites.

Domestic companies, meanwhile, were found to be 'hungry' for cash to invest and 36% would consider selling all or part of their company to foreign investors in order to raise funds seeking "to expand their geographical footprint and become pan-regional or global players." Scope for mergers and acquisitions is considerable and a period of consolidation among domestic companies can be expected.

China and India top the list of target countries for expansion, with Singapore and South Korea next.

Both international and domestic companies said there had been a welcome improvement in patent protection in key Asian markets, which was critical to successful development of the pharmaceuticals sector.

Around three quarters of executives polled said they had seen an improvement in intellectual property rights protection in the past five years, primarily as a result of the introduction of new laws and a stronger government emphasis on patent rights.

With the prices of new medicines a growing headache for governments and insurers in North America and Europe, Asia can play a pivotal role in building a lower-cost supply chain. So far much of the focus has been on outsourcing drug manufacturing but companies are increasingly turning their attention to conducting research in the region as well, the report noted.




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