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ChinaBio® White Paper – China Life Science: From Local to Global

publication date: Mar 20, 2012
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD and Tracy Yeo, PhD
When China celebrated its New Year during January, it entered the Year of the Dragon, a symbol of wealth and power. The dragon also signifies transformation and rapid change. While change has been building in China’s life science industry for years, a transformation coalesced in 2011. Last year, China life science transformed itself from an industry with primarily local, inward-looking domestic companies to a sector that has global impact.

ChinaBio® has just published a White Paper, available for free on its website (www.chinabiotoday.com/downloads/20120313), detailing the growth of global activity in China’s life science sector during 2011. Fueled by the government’s ambitious financial backing and the desire of individual companies to become major players on the world stage, China’s life science companies began to look outside their own borders for partners, markets and drug candidates.

For example, Tasly Pharma is investing over $40 million in the US to bring its TCM for angina to the market there. It has also formed a second joint venture with a western company, SemBioSys, to focus on plant-derived insulin. And Hutchison MediPharma continued its western expansion, entering a $140 million co-development oncology collaboration with AstraZeneca.

At the same time, multi-national pharma looked to increase their presence and influence in China. Rapidly expanding their traditional sales and marketing operations to keep pace with the China’s hyper market growth over the last several years, big pharma are also in a frenzy to build brick-and-mortar R&D centers in China. In fact, Merck, who has been a late-comer to the R&D party, announced the largest investment yet – a $1.5 billion R&D center in Beijing.

Cross-border partnerships between the west and east also increased in size and number last year: more than 60 partnering and co-development deals were announced. The average deal size is on the rise, with several exceeding the $100 million mark, and western pharma are increasingly bringing their drugs and technologies to China seeking co-development partners.

To make its point that China’s life science sector is on a global roll, the White Paper also gives details on other factors that will advance China’s life science outreach in the future. These include:

- Government backing
- China’s innovation clusters
- Returnees bringing leadership to life science companies
- VC investment
- IPOs still viable for China’s life science companies
- Rising corporate investment in China’s pharmas
- Increasing M&A activity, and
- Partnering deals on the upswing.

As the number three global pharmaceutical market and a growing hub of global innovation, China has the ambition, coupled with the backing of significant government and private capital, to become a major player on the global life science stage. It has become increasingly urgent for western life science companies to include China as an integral part of their global R&D and commercialization strategic plan. With its large population, immense territory, and increasing income and wealth, China will continue to attract western companies as it outpaces the growth of global and western life science markets.

Disclosure: ChinaBio has a business relationship with Merck.


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