China's promise comes with pitfalls

Big Pharma is in the middle of a gold rush into China, seeking access to the fast-growing market. But what about the pitfalls?

The Financial Times enumerated a few of those, including a lack of highly trained personnel. "If you compare us with a typical integrated site, we don't have enough critical mass or talent yet," Pfizer's Steve Yang says. That lack leads to high turnover, others tell the paper, boosting the costs of recruitment and training.

Then there are fears that increased competition in the market--plus fast-rising healthcare costs--will depress drug prices. The government is already looking at ways to curtail those costs by overhauling the current system, which incentivizes hospitals to overprescribe expensive meds, the FT reports.

Any such reform will take time, consultants say. And by then, Big Pharma hopes to have ironed out any problems, entrenched itself firmly in the market, and set up efficient operations. "China will reshape the global pharma industry," Monitor's George Baeder tells the FT.

- read the FT piece