2019 is a landmark year for China, marking not only the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949 but also the economic ‘opening up’ and liberalization in 1979 by Premier Deng Xiaoping.
Both were momentous occasions for the country, as the extravagant celebrations on 1 October 2019 made clear. For those in the healthcare and life sciences industry, the year 2019 would no doubt also take its place in history as a landmark year, with decisions and developments occurring that would shape the industry for the following decade, if not decades.
For the past few years, the Chinese government has placed healthcare reforms as a paramount priority for national development. New policies and regulations affecting every aspect of the industry value chain, from R&D to manufacturing, commercialization to distribution, have been unveiled at an almost dizzying pace, leaving industry insiders and observers alike the almost Herculean task of staying on top of the reforms.
Nevertheless, it is patently obvious today that, in spite of all its complexities and challenges, China – the second-largest pharmaceutical market in the world – is a must-win market for companies aspiring to become global leaders, whether for foreign multinationals hoping to cash in on the USD 137 billion market or for homegrown entities expecting to catapult off the Chinese launchpad into global markets.
A rising tide lifts all boats. With optimism and energy pervading the Chinese healthcare landscape, actors of all stripes see new potential and opportunities on the horizon. The heterogeneity of the Chinese market, with its 31 province-level entities offering a variety of market characteristics and needs; the waves of overseas returnees repatriating decades of experience in top pharma companies and biotechs, known as the so-called ‘sea turtles’; the budding capital markets unfurling their increasing interest in the sector; and the most pro-innovation regulatory environment the industry has seen practically since inception – all have coalesced into a veritable playground for the next generation of global pharma and biotech giants.
All of them, and the network of service providers that surround them, see in China’s vast market not only bountiful opportunities to serve patient needs and so doing, reap rewards, but also an unparalleled platform to test new models of innovation, operational excellence, and service delivery.