As China has become more affluent, there has been increasing demand for therapeutics, medical devices, and other healthcare products and services. Hepatitis B and C and HIV/ AIDS continue to be major problems, but the overall Chinese disease profile is looking more and more like that of the Western world. Cancers (especially lung, liver, colorectal, and gastric) and cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases accounted for 77 percent of deaths in 2000, and it is expected that changing lifestyles will soon put the spotlight on diabetes and obesity.
Meanwhile, the expanding class of Chinese "luxury consumers" is expected to reach 100 million in the next decade. These affluent individuals have fueled the explosive entry of upscale brands such as Gucci, Armani, Cartier, and Mercedes into China and have been the force behind the rise of new private hospitals with US-style premium services. These consumers demand better healthcare, and they can afford it; they represent a lucrative market for foreign companies marketing state-of-the-art medical treatments.
Opportunities in Life Science and Healthcare Last year, General Motors made a profit of $437 million in China—more than half its entire North American profits, at close to eight times its North American margin. In the high-tech arena, the chip giant Intel generated revenues of $3.7 billion from China last year, making the country its third-largest market in the world and one of the most profitable. With venture investment of more than $200 million in 50 Chinese companies, Intel is possibly the most dominant high-tech brand in China. By comparison, pharmaceutical companies have lagged behind in their expansion into China. According to some estimates, for example, Pfizer's 2003 Chinese pharmaceutical revenue accounted for less than 1 percent of total revenue (approximately $140 million out of $45 billion), although the company is reported to have invested more than $500 million in China since the 1980s. Pfizer currently markets more than 40 pharmaceuticals there and plans to launch 15 new drugs in China in the next five years.
In addition to Pfizer, the big pharmaceutical players in China include: