News Feature | February 12, 2014

China's Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Slowing

Source: Pharmaceutical Online

By Marcus Johnson

The Chinese pharmaceutical industry exports show indications of slow growth toward the end of the past year. While the country’s total foreign trade in the pharmaceutical industry increased, a significant portion of the uptick was due to higher demand for high quality drugs, which led to increased imports. China’s overall foreign trade in the pharmaceutical industry rose 10.27% in 2013 compared to the previous year. Imports were up 15.17% and exports rose by 6.84%. The slow growth of Chinese pharmaceutical exports is concerning to industry experts and state officials.

"China's pharmaceutical industry is entering a critical period of transformation as it is losing its traditional competitiveness, such as price, and is also faced with sluggish international market, especially in Europe and the United States," said Xu Ming, vice-chairman of China’s Chamber of Commerce for Imports & Exports of Medicine and Health Products.

China exports a significant number of pharmaceutical ingredients, as Chinese drugs are less competitive than western drugs on the international market. Pharmaceutical ingredients account for nearly half of the pharmaceutical industry’s exports. But the overall number of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients exported has been declining for over a year. Exports of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients fell 9.52% in the third quarter of 2013 alone.

Xu believes that China needs to diversify its offerings in both the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries to regain international competitiveness. He also is aware of foreign regulation that stifles many Chinese based drug producers. "Chinese producers should work more closely with foreign makers and get more international certifications," said Xu.