Chinese pharma eyes opportunity in U.S., U.K.

Big Pharma's stampede into China is well documented. Most recently, Novartis ($NVS) made headlines with plans to cut 2,000 jobs in the U.S. and Switzerland, while pumping up operations in China with several hundred new jobs. Of course, China's projected growth rate looks much better than anything in the U.S. or Europe these days.

But Chinese drugmakers appear to have an appetite for sales in Big Pharma's home markets. As China Daily reports, a group of Chinese pharma executives and industry investors made a foray into the U.S. to check out the prospects. They met with Amgen, Pfizer, Ernst & Young's pharma group and healthcare-investment specialist Warburg Pincus. "We are here to learn from the major international pharmaceutical entrepreneurs," Buchang Pharmaceuticals President Zhao Chao told the Daily, "and to also look for cooperation possibilities."

Meanwhile, a Chinese drugmaker is said to be scouting sites for operations in the U.K. Company officials have checked out AstraZeneca's ($AZN) 69-acre site in Loughborough, which is slated for closure later this year, and Pfizer's ($PFE) Sandwich facility, which is also up for sale, the Leicester Mercury reports.

Thing is, the pharma growth that has foreign drugmakers salivating has also fattened up Chinese pharma's purse. Investment in Chinese pharma is up by almost 38% so far this year to $19.7 billion, government statistics show. Chinese companies already have a sizable share of the U.S. market for APIs and raw materials, but to grow substantially, analysts say, they'll need to supply finished doses.

Zhao's company, for one, is aiming to win FDA approval for a heart drug it's now testing. Chinese companies have the ability to move into Western markets, Zhao says, "It's just a question of how."

- get the China Daily story
- see the Mercury piece