Crestor, Plavix make new Chinese formulary

China is a promising new market for Big Pharma. And when its government makes a healthcare-related move, the news reverberates throughout the drug industry. Today, it's a good reverberation: China's National Reimbursement Drug List is being updated for the first time in six years--and many Western drugs are making the grade.

That means more sales for AstraZeneca, whose cholesterol drug Crestor and heartburn remedy Nexium leaped into a category that allows patients a rebate of up to 50 percent. Sanofi-Aventis' clotbuster Plavix also made that list, Reuters reports.

This move is just part of the big growth in Chinese drug spending that's attracted so much attention from Big Pharma. Investment firm Morgan Stanley calls that growth a "windfall" for Western drugmakers. Pharma spending only amounts to less than 5 percent of Chinese GDP, but Morgan Stanley expects that to grow by 18 percent annually for the next three to five years.

"Our previous calculation of around 10 percent uplift to EPS in 2015 from [emerging markets] could be conservative in timing and magnitude," the analysts note (as quoted by Reuters).

As for AstraZeneca, we're expecting to hear more tomorrow about its activities in China and other emerging markets during an investor meeting and update. We'll keep you posted.

- read the Reuters news