Allergan, eyeing Asia for growth, pours $14.7M into first medical aesthetics center in China

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Allergan is investing $14.7 million to build its first Medical Aesthetics Innovation Center in Chengdu, China. (Allergan)

Allergan’s ambition for its medical aesthetics business is to grow to about $8 billion in 2025 from $3.8 billion in 2017 sales, with a big chunk coming from Asia. To achieve that, the U.S. pharma will put a center in Chengdu, China, devoted to letting doctors and potential customers understand what medical aesthetics is all about. 

Slated to open in early 2019, the Medical Aesthetics Innovation Center will cost Allergan $14.7 million and will serve as a training center for medical aesthetics practitioners, as well as an education and experience center for consumers.

China and emerging Asian markets in general represent a huge opportunity in Allergan’s eyes. And the company already has its plan for the market laid out.

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The company’s international commercial chief, Marc Princen, recently dubbed Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa “mission critical” for Allergan to succeed. The reason? About 66% of the world’s middle class will be living there by 2030. These people will look for physical appearance improvements and have the money to pay for them.

According to Princen at the company’s Medical Aesthetics Day event last month, the region will grow to a $2 billion Allergan business by 2025, with a big push into China. The country itself is expected to contribute $1 billion at that time, up from about $180 million in 2017. How does Allergan plan to realize that?

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First, it will work to grow sales of its base products, including Botox and Juvederm, and introduce all its new products to the country in the next five years.

Under influence from its neighbor South Korea, where medical aesthetics enjoys nationwide prominence, China’s medical aesthetics industry is expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2018, with an average growth rate of 22.7% from 2015 to 2020, according to a Deloitte report.

In China, Allergan plans to triple its medical aesthetics accounts from about 3,500 and will also help triple the number of trained injectors in the country from the current 5,000, with the new Chengdu center playing a big part in that. 

For the new center, Allergan is channeling its resources and extensive clinical experience to improve the skills of an estimated 3,000 Chinese medical aesthetics professionals each year, therefore improving the experience for consumers.

“Allergan is dedicated to improving the diagnosis and treatment skills of Chinese medical aesthetics professionals, so that Allergan products can be better leveraged in serving consumers,” said the company in a release.

On the consumer front, Allergan just unveiled a partnership with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba’s healthcare branch AliHealth. Hoping to take advantage of over 600 million people within Alibaba’s consumer network, the pair will launch a medical aesthetics platform to educate people and direct them to qualified providers and products.

To cope with the growth, Allergan’s own team also needs to be strengthened as the company plans to expand its sales force in China from 800 to over 1,400 by 2025, said Princen.