China announces it is deepening its ongoing fraud investigation into the pharmaceutical industry. The probe seeks to make the Chinese market more competitive, removing corruption from the system to ensure that China’s standards for pharmaceuticals match the rest of the developed world. Although revelations of bribery and regulation evasion sound like a PR nightmare, in practice, it is part of the necessary growing pains to encourage more companies to invest in the country. While many major pharmaceutical companies have offices in the world’s most populous nation, including Eli Lily, Astra Zenca and Pfizer, and have had established footholds for decades, they are still faced by officials who need additional rewards to cooperate, and doctors who want kickbacks. Removing this stumbling block will only generate more growth. It’s also something the companies themselves prefer, as the negative publicity in their own countries for being known to resort to bribery is generally not worth the advantages in China.
Making Pharmaceutical Quality Control a Priority
In pharmaceutical sales, China is project to exceed Japan as the second largest pharmaceutical market in the world, as of 2016. Chinese consumers trust imports over internally manufactured products that may be fakes or produced in less than ideal circumstances. The baby formula scandal of recent years is only one example of an internal failure of pharmaceutical quality control. Although the culprits of that tragedy have been caught and punished, the impact continues. This takes on a crucial relevance and China seeks to expand its healthcare coverage. Again, like most developed countries do, China wants to maintain a commitment to universal healthcare, with expenses that expect to climb to $1 trillion and that means making sure that their own people trust the healthcare system they’re expanding.
While skills like HPLC training can help protect end consumers, in order to convince countries abroad to consider taking on Chinese exports, China will have to make an extra effort to show transparency in pharmaceutical quality control. This will be a necessary step to rebuild consumer confidence.
What other steps do you feel will improve healthcare and pharmaceutical investment in China?