China: Fosun Pharma in Profile


At a time when the country’s economy has fallen into a slump with the currency sinking to its lowest level in 16 years, Chinese giant Fosun Pharma continues to agressively advance its activities in everything from pharmaceuticals to medical devices and diagnosis to healthcare services. Through its multiple subsidiaries, as a shareholder in the Sinopharm Group, by means of its partnerships with companies like Gilead’s Kite, Amgen and BioNTech, and through its own in-house R&D efforts, the group has forged an important position not just in China, where it took 6th place among China’s top 100 pharma companies, but globally.


Beyond China

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Shanghai, China, Fosun has established itself as a heavy hitter within China yet the company has also looked to expand beyond the country’ borders. Through partnerships with Big Pharma and expansions into other territories the company is looking to become a significant international player. Of its 2022 reported revenues, RMB 43.952 billion, RMB 13.938 billion, or some 31.71 percent came from regions outside of the Chinese mainland.

Indeed, internationalisation is one of the pillars of the company strategy and will continue to claim importance going forward. “Looking forward to the future, Fosun Pharma will adhere to the mission of promoting human health guided by the ‘4IN’ (Innovation, Internationalization, Intelligentization, Integration) strategy,” said company chairman Wu Yifang.

One of the external markets Fosun is proud to have broken into is the US where it has launched a number of generic drugs as well as its anti-PD-1 mAb serplulimab for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) through its subsidiary Shanghai Henlius Biotech.


Breakthroughs and Partnerships

Fosun has made a sustained commitment to innovation and again increased its investment in R&D in 2022 with a total R&D expenditure of RMB 5.885 billion for the year.

The group’s push for innovation can be seen in areas such as CAR-T cell therapy. Developed through a joint venture with Gilead’s Kite – Fosun Kite – the treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL), axicabtagene ciloleucel, has gained approval from the China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA).

Another important international partnership came in 2022 when Fosun signed an exclusive licensing agreement with the American biotech giant Amgen to commercialise Amgen’s Otezla for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis as well as its chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment, Parsabiv, on the Chinese mainland.

Fosun’s subsidiaries have also been making some significant international deals. While Shanghai Henlius signed licensing agreements with the likes of Abbott and Organon, the group’s India-based contract manufacturer, Gland Pharma, acquired European CDMO Cenexi, giving the group access to the European market as well as localised manufacturing capacity in Europe.


COVID-19 Vaccines

Moreover, the Chinese group was at the ready when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and in 2020 obtained Greater China rights for BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine. While the vaccine never thrived on the mainland, sales in Hong Kong and Macau were enough to boost Fosun’s revenue by more than USD 145 million in 2021. As a drop in demand for vaccines was sorely felt by some of the firm’s competitors, such as CanSino, Fosun, because of its diverse portfolio, has not suffered losses.


Efforts in Africa

Fosun has been active on another front: getting affordable medicines to developing countries, namely those in Africa. Having brought its antimalarial Artesun to countries in sub-Saharan Africa as a supplier to the Global Fund, UNICEF, WHO and national drug procurement centres and created a regional distribution hub through its Tridem Pharma subsidiary, Fosun recently announced the construction of a new pharmaceutical production facility in the Ivory Coast.

With the support of two World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) loans amounting to USD 107.1 million, Fosun plans to build a manufacturing facility near Abidjan that will produce both anti-malaria and anti-bacterial drugs. “Fosun Pharma is committed to ensuring the continuous accessibility and affordability of pharmaceutical products and improving the resilience of healthcare supply chains in the region,” Yifang claimed in a release.

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