~ By Charmaine Mirza
Indian pharmaceuticals have been trying to enter the Chinese market for a while. Priced cheaper than drugs available on the Mainland, Indian pharma companies have always been kept at bay for fear that they may disrupt the industry. However, there might be light at the end of this tunnel. Shanghai based Fosun Pharmaceuticals has recently emerged as the billion-dollar bidder for India’s KKR backed Gland Pharma, outstripping US-based Baxter and Advent, as it aims to increase its research and manufacturing prowess.
As China gets old before she gets rich, the pharmaceutical industry is now waking up to partnering with Indian drug companies to benefit their billion plus populations and avoid a healthcare meltdown.
Both ancient nations have their medical advantages –
– China and India supply much of the world (and the same pharma multi-nationals) with their APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and generics.
– The roots of modern medicine lie in two ancient systems – Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
So who really wields the whip in this pharmaceutical circus? Inchin Closer pauses to examine the larger picture.
The pharmaceutical industry is largely labor intensive. As the cost of skilled human resources rises, it makes sense for global multi-nationals to outsource more and more of their production to countries where manufacturing manpower is cheap. Enter that dynamic Asian duo: crouching tiger / hidden dragon. Over 70 percent of bulk drugs are sourced from China to the world – including India. So is there scope for the tiger and dragon to collaborate more closely and work their magic medicine together? Maybe.
While China has entrenched itself well as the source of APIs for bacterial infections, India produces more specialized and advanced therapeutic products for areas such as oncology, etc. In fact, oncology has recently been in focus as a point of possible collaboration between both countries.
The vast majority of China’s hospitals are government run, and an increasing number of wealthy urban Chinese are looking outwards for medical care that has a warmer, more personal appeal, a higher human factor involved.
“Also the Indian medical expertise is turning out to be the soft power of the country,” according to Dr. K. M. Cherian, who is a regular at Chinese medical conferences. “They (countries like China and Japan) have technology but human technology is missing. That is where we make a difference. Indian doctors are well accepted all over the world.”
As India’s medical tourism industry continues to expand, particularly in fields such as dentistry, optometric, cardiovascular, cancer, and joint replacement, it will start marketing itself more aggressively to Chinese clients leading to a closer collaboration between China and India.