The California-based multinational giant Amgen recently finalised an investment of $2.8 billion in Chinese pharmaceuticals, and it seems that the trends of the 2010s will continue as China continues to assert itself as a major player in the global biotechnology and pharmaceutical trades.
Amgen itself has aggressively expanded its global influence since 2011, doubling its geographic presence from around 50 to approximately 100 countries by 2019. Amgen CEO Robert A. Bradway stated that the new deal would “…enable Amgen to serve significantly more patients by expanding our presence in the world’s most populous country,” after the initial announcement in the final quarter of last year. As the largest pure play biotechnology company in the world and turning over nearly $24 billion in revenue, when Amgen makes a move it is heard throughout the industry.
It certainly is one of the best starts that the Chinese market could hope for. The 2010s saw a significant shift in attitude when it came to the efficacy of Chinese healthcare. According to a report released in December, with 194 phase 1 starts in 2017, Chinese CROs succeeded in rising above even the United Kingdom, which lags behind with 147 phase 1 starts. Though China still has some way to go in later stages, it is a piece of solid statistical evidence that the tide has begun to turn, and China clinical research is not just able to stand among longer-established peers, but excel.
Of course, the news may come as wholly unsurprising to some. China has seen steady reforms aiming at further legitimising medical research and securing further investment both domestically and globally throughout the last decade – not least among which was the re-formation of the CFDA to the NMPA in 2018, aimed at increasing both the efficiency of regulation processes for food and drugs, and the safety of both.
With the clinical trial report based on data acquired prior to these reforms, it seems likely that these numbers are set to increase. A great deal of China’s growth has been attributed to these large-scale fundamental changes to medical care within the country, as the government moves to prioritize expansion, modernisation and integration. Suffice to say that in the wake of this extensive Amgen investment, American companies certainly seem to have had their concerns allayed over any previous issues.
In the same year as the NMPA re-formation, China saw unprecedented investment figures for medical start-up venture investment at home at just shy of $4 billion, with companies leaning heavily into both life sciences and biotechnology. The next few years will bear witness to a strong shift in global pharmaceutical supply as foreign drug companies find it increasingly difficult to sell to China among greater competition and the lower costs involved in Chinese pharmaceuticals and testing.
With the fruits of these re-formations expected to come into the eye of the market shortly, 2020 should be a fruitful year for investors, partners and corporations, who will be keeping a watchful eye on the industry as it develops.