Increasing investments: In 2017, biopharma was the second largest investment market in China, falling only behind information technology. The 2017 Annual Report on China’s Equity Investment states that 1,008 of the 9,120 investment cases in China were directly related to biotech and pharmaceuticals. The Chinese pharmaceutical industry reached $571 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.
In addition to private investments, the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” program boosts the industry with mass government investment and policy reform. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the program also ensures increasing pharma influence by aiming to “have manufacturing be innovation-driven, emphasize quality over quantity, achieve green development, optimize the structure of Chinese industry, and nurture human talent.”
CFDA Reform: The Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) now allows pharmaceutical companies to use clinical data from trials conducted outside the country to seek CFDA approval. Other reforms increase regulatory transparency, change healthcare and drug pricing, and make it easier to collaborate with other countries. In an interview with McKinsey, Frank Jiang, CEO of CStone Pharmaceuticals, mused “I would like to highlight the encouraging progress in government policies … The regulatory changes these reforms have brought are going to catalyze the pharmaceutical industry in China.”
The most drastic change involves replacing the CFDA altogether with the new State Drug Administration, a division of the State Administration of Market Supervision. This move is projected to increase efficiency so much that the United States is considering a similar plan to separate the regulation of food and medicine.
Research center rankings: The prestige and honor of Chinese research institutions has been increasing rapidly as the country invests in groundbreaking technological developments. According to the 2018 Nature Index, 83 of the top 500 research institutions worldwide are located in China. Close to 90% of these improved their ranking from the previous year. Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) ranked in at number one, and two other Chinese universities made the top fifteen, both of which had not previously ranked so high.
China currently holds the #4 spot on Nature’s list of top countries/territories in life sciences. Of the top 10 countries, it exhibited the highest growth from 2016 to 2017, at 21.3%. Talk about increasing pharma influence!
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