The development of the Chinese pharmaceutical market over the last 15 years is remarkable. Since the beginning of the new millennium, yearly growth rates have remained consistently above twenty percent. An additional push has been driven by the extensive reforms enacted by the Chinese government in March of 2009 to invest 850 billion RMB (about 107 billion euros) into the healthcare system to ensure basic healthcare for 90 percent of the population.
This reform was just the beginning. By 2020, everyone living in China, which is expected to be more than 1.4 billion people, is to have access to a comprehensive state health system. In addition to the governmental directive, it is the rapidly growing middle class and the aging population that are boosting the demand for health services. As a result, the per-head expenditure for health services in China has more than quadrupled since 2004.
Along with this growth, the challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies are also rising. For example, in the current, REMOVE twelfth five-year-plan the quality and reliability of medications has been explicitly prescribed as a goal. The current version of the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China includes, amongst other things, specifications for higher requirements of medication tests, standardized methods for approval, and regular monitoring of medicines. The requirements of the latest edition of the cGMP are to be fully implemented by 2015 at the latest. Subsequently, the introduction of systems for electronic monitoring and documentation is also increasing.
This development has immediate effects on manufacturing technology. To achieve the desired production quantities and to satisfy the regulatory requirements, Chinese companies are increasingly investing in modernized facilities where safety and quality are top priority.
Powerful, economical, easily operated machines that are certified and validated according to the specifications of the FDA and of cGMP are in demand, and the Chinese pharmaceutical industry has the next leap forward in its sights. These companies still product primarily in the local market while the investment in modern equipment provides the foundation for significantly increasing exports. These companies still produce primarily for the local market. The investment in modern equipment, however, provides the foundation for significantly increasing exports in the way India has done.