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China Set to Compete in Generics Market

Written by on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

China is in the process of positioning itself to compete in the major world generics markets, according to a report by Reuters.  The Chinese move is expected to drive down generics prices below current market rates.

 Reuters reported on the Chinese strategy as follows:

Pharmaceutical information group IMS Health Inc said last year’s first okay from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a Chinese generic — a copy of AIDS drug nevirapine — was a sign of things to come. . . .

Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd won a U.S. green light last July to sell generic nevirapine, once the patent held by Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim expires in 2012.At least 10 other Chinese companies are set to follow suit with other generic products, according to IMS. Some could be available as early as this year. The result will be increased competition in a generic drugs industry that is already struggling with tumbling prices.

"In order to ensure their success in the market, the Chinese manufacturers are likely to undercut all others on price," IMS said in its annual Intelligence.360 report.

According to Reuters, the one potential roadblock that Chinese companies are likely to encounter is the fact that they do not have a good reputation for quality, particularly in light of the recent heparin scandal.  This may give Indian companies, which are also trying to enter the generics market, a competitive advantage.

As a consumer, I welcome the additional competition, which will ultimately result in lower prices at the drugstore.  With all the recent Chinese safety scandals, however, I cannot help but wonder if the increased presence of Chinese generics companies in the marketplace is going to end up generating even more safety problems for American consumers–and perhaps even more legal problems as well.  Hopefully the FDA is following what is happening in China and responds accordingly to better ensure that U.S. consumers are not purchasing unsafe Chinese products.

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