7 Things to Know About the China Pharmaceutical Industry

China is the second largest pharmaceutical market in the world. Demand is likely to increase as the government introduces reforms to improve the country’s health care system. These changes are helping multinational drug makers tap into the Chinese pharmaceutical market. Synchrogenix’s China Service Line has compiled a list of seven things to know about the China pharmaceutical industry to help your understanding.

1. CFDA Name Change

China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has officially changed its English name to National Medical Product Administration (NMPA). NMPA now falls under the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), a newly established agency at the ministry level, and no longer reports directly to the State Council. The Center for Drug Evaluation (CDE) under NMPA remains without change in function.

2. Important NMPA Announcements

NMPA recently issued two important announcements:

3. Imported Drugs

China’s new policy allows the import of new drugs from abroad more quickly, and at significantly reduced prices. For example, the price of new PD-1/PD-L1 drugs (Opdivo and Keytruda) entering China has been as low as a quarter of their costs in the United States. Seventeen cancer drugs recently entered the Chinese health insurance system and their cost has been covered by the government by greater than 50% on average. Based on these policy changes, most of the windows for Chinese pharma companies to use drug license-in to bring late-stage drug candidates have basically been closed.

4. Generic Drug Approvals

The model for generic drug approval shows that, in general, no more than three pharmaceutical companies can afford a full competition. Approximately 70% of the market sales will be granted to the first bidder who won the bid for a generic drug and the remaining 30% for others. It is expected that more generic drug makers will close throughout 2019.

5. Double Registration Filing

For most Chinese R&D pharmaceutical companies, double registration filing (FDA or EMA first, then China) still offers advantages in terms of approval speed/time and filing cost, due to special policies issued by former CFDA. Many companies have recently opened U.S. branches to speed up their filing.

6. R&D

The new patterns in drug R&D sectors in China is completely subversive, compared with before 2017. The majority of pharmaceutical companies now face a very competitive situation and are forced to develop their own original drug candidates or search for/acquire early stage candidates from abroad; however, the CROs (both clinical and non-clinical) in the industry benefit most from this change.

7. eCTD System

An electronic common technical document (eCTD) system under installment in CDE/NMPA is expected to start working and accept e-submissions during the first quarter of 2019.


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