IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM…
Dr. Wu Xiaobing, country manager for Pfizer China, the country's #1 MNC, assesses the big picture of growth to come. "MNCs
will certainly continue to bring innovative products to China, but China is a huge country and to change takes time. But ultimately
it doesn't matter whether growth comes from MNCs or locals. I differentiate only between innovative products and generics,
regardless of the source, and if it benefits people, everything it will be accelerated."
This is why many MNCs – including Pfizer, who signed a USD 500 million deal with Hisun to develop high-quality branded generics
– have embraced a local flavour to spice up local generics penetration.
Buchang Group: By The Numbers
Eric Baclet, president of Eli Lilly China, is presiding over a similar partnership. Baclet began his career with Lilly 25
years ago as a sales rep in France, and moved through management positions in France, Hungary, North Africa, and Belgium before
heading back to the US where he eventually headed the launch of Cymbalta to a turnover of USD 5 billion globally before coming
to China. In China, Lilly recently expanded a partnership with Novast by USD 20 million, which Baclet says is "about making
our portfolio available to Chinese patients. It's about innovation, and high-quality innovation – high-quality innovation
do you need to repeat high-quality innovation? is important in China. Novast is an important play to complement with branded,
high-quality generics, the disease areas where Lilly has expertise. We aren't going to be opportunistic with generics outside
our field of expertise. Therefore, each brand we will develop with Novast will be either in Neuroscience, Oncology, or Diabetes."
Critical Mass, Critical Competition
Some, like Sanofi, are still testing the waters. Despite a strong global generics presence with Zentiva in Europe, Kendrick
in Mexico, Medley in Brazil, and Nichi-Iko in Japan, Sanofi has yet to make a big play in China. Jean-Luc Lowinski, senior
vice president, Asia Region & vice president, Greater China Global Operation, speaks to the predominance of generics in China:
"First of all, Sanofi in China has faced this reality since day one – when we launched Plavix, there was already a generic
in the market!" However, despite the presence of generics, Sanofi's brands have flourished, with Plavix the most successful
drug in the Rx market in China, and Amaryl which continues to gain market share over generics. "Globally, we're not unfamiliar
with the situation where there are generics," Lowinski continues. "Having said that, even though Sanofi is now number three
in the market, we're not covering as many of the Chinese population as we would like to." Lowinski wants to play a bigger
role in China in generics. "There's lots of moves in the industry, we're looking at them and studying what makes sense for
us, and it's definitely part of the market where we think we should also be there, the way we are in other countries."
From left: Wu Xiaobing, Country Manager for Pfizer China; Eric Blaclet, President of Eli Lilly China; Jean Luc Lowinski, Senior
Vice President Asia for Sanofi; Andras Gizur, Chief Representative of Gedeon Richter in China