Will new Chinese rules obstruct pharma trade?

What if pharma threw a party in China but the government refused to come? Well, that's just what might happen as a result of new rules that give domestic companies preference in government purchasing. The Obama Administration is up in arms about the regulations, saying that they amount to trade barriers, Bloomberg reports.

"The United States has since expressed serious concerns to China about this measure," The U.S. trade rep said in a report (as quoted by Bloomberg), going on to say that for the past two years China has been pursuing "industrial policies that rely on excessive, trade-distorting government intervention intended to promote or protect China's domestic industries."

China is the big-gorilla buyer of drugs in that market, so Big Pharma's push into the country relies in part on getting government business. And the globe's biggest drugmakers are targeting China in a big way. Eli Lilly is staffing up on the sales side to garner more business there; Novartis is aiming to make China its third-largest market; and Pfizer says it wants to increase its share of China's pharma market to 6 percent from about 4 percent.

One of the ways Big Pharma is working its way into the country is by establishing big manufacturing and R&D operations there, as a bid to ingratiate themselves with Chinese officials who take domestic investment and domestic employment very seriously. We'll have to wait and see how those officials respond to the U.S. trade rep's concerns.

- read the Bloomberg story