For Global Drug Manufacturers, China Becomes a Perilous Market

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Multinational drug companies now employ more sales agents in China than they do in the United States, their largest market. Several, including Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, are making huge scientific investments in the country, including building research and development centers. Within the next few years, China is poised to surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market.

Chinese demand for drugs is booming, and the country wants its drug makers to compete with the world’s top manufacturers.

The booming Chinese demand for drugs could not come at a better time for Western manufacturers, whose sales have been slumping because of patent expirations in the United States and stringent price controls in Europe.

But selling pharmaceuticals and other health care products in China is increasingly fraught with peril, as shown byaccusations in China this week that GlaxoSmithKline funneled payments through travel agents to doctors, hospitals and government officials to bolster drug sales in the country.

Source: The New York Times (link opens in a new window)

Health Care