To pump up Prevenar, Pfizer looks to rural China

Like any country, China isn't one market, but many. Strategies for capturing share and growing sales in cities won't necessarily work in rural areas. And to grow as much as drugmakers want to in China, to help make up for slowing growth and pricing pressures in Europe and the U.S., companies are going to have to look beyond Beijing.

Consider Pfizer ($PFE), which is hoping to pump up sales of its streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine Prevenar in China. In an interview with Reuters, Pfizer's global vaccines chief said the company wants to spread the vaccine beyond city borders, partly with the help of partner Shanghai Pharmaceutical, but perhaps with additional assistance from new partners.

Prevenar sales already amount to several million doses in China's big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hanzhou, Pfizer's Mark Swindell told the news service. "But if you compared the adoption of the vaccine to the number of newborns each year, we are still really scratching the surface," Swindell said. Getting Prevenar into rural markets will require "local programs" set up with the help of "individual cities or some of the provinces that have shown interest in certain other products."

Pfizer isn't alone in anticipating growth in China's provinces. Sanofi ($SNY) has also been eyeing rural China for expansion, staffing up in 10 regional offices, and recently signed on to a government-backed diabetes training program that will train hundreds of doctors from rural areas. Bayer Healthcare has been involved in a medical-training project in China as well, known as "Go West," and it recently re-upped for another five years to bring professional training to rural doctors and hospitals.

- read the Reuters story

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