GlaxoSmithKline, still licking wounds inflicted as China made an example of the British drugmaker in introducing a corruption crackdown, is looking to the world's second-largest market as a key to its salvation.
China has laid plans to change a commercial slur into a flattering term, at least for the quality of drugs it produces. The goal over the next 10 years or so is to make "Made in China" mean something other than cheap and shoddy work.
Since Chinese officials slapped GlaxoSmithKline with a $489 million fine on bribery charges, the company has overhauled its sales practices to quash corruption. But some say its reforms could hurt its top line at a time when the company's already suffering.
China's Kelun Pharmaceutical has just opened a $50 million production plant in Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata), just across the border in Kazakhstan. Kelun Kazpharm executives told China's state-run Xinhua news agency the plant is responsible for 70% of the Kazakhstan market for intravenous medicines.
Shanghai-based ZAI Lab has in-licensed China rights for HM61713, a tumor-targeting EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor from South Korea's Hanmi, which has racked up an impressive string of license deals this year.
China is moving on several fronts to make it easier and safer for potential patients to use the nation's expanding healthcare system, with a new emphasis on drug regulations, devices and elderly care. Even so, American drugmakers say the government should do even more in the drugs area.
China is harboring what could be a doomsday bug, according to scientists who issued an alert for a possible worldwide pandemic, according to reports by CBC News and Channel News Asia. The scare is even more serious because the resistant bacterium has been found in both animals and humans.
China has moved closer to approval of the nation's first state-of-the-art treatment for hepatitis C, according to researchers who presented data from their initial trial at the Liver Meeting conference in San Francisco.
Big Pharma has already seen sales in China slow, thanks in part to stepped-up competition from local drugmakers. Healthcare reform there is also taking its toll. But Fitch Ratings says pharma's troubles in China are only beginning.
Indonesia's Kalbe Farma has signed a deal with South Korea's Genexine in which it will invest $9.1 million to develop biopharmaceutical products and create an R&D laboratory in Indonesia to research the hormone erythropoietin, which helps produce red blood cells, according to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review.