Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, has announced plans to pursue aggressive sales growth and market-share targets in China. In doing so, it hopes to take advantage of the nation’s unmet needs for health care which have been prompted by an economic boom and an associated increase in diabetes and hypertension.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Pfizer’s Regional President of North Asia Allan Gabor said the company wants to increase sales in China by 25% per year.
“When you look at where we are in China today, even though our growth rate is high, the market share is relatively low. And that’s a function of … the nature of the competition here, and the fact that patent law wasn’t really established until 1993,” Gabor told the Journal.
Pfizer is well positioned in the cardiovascular disease market with the blockbusters Lipitor (for cholesterol) and Norvasc (for high blood pressure). Last month, Pfizer rounded out this portfolio by announcing a deal to help Takeda Pharmaceuticals market Actos, a drug for type 2 diabetes, in China.
Pfizer is already the largest foreign pharmaceutical company on the mainland, yet it controls only 2% of the market. The Chinese pharmaceutical market is remarkably fragmented, with thousands of local players in the mix.
The market for pharmaceuticals in China rose 27% last year, and most forecasters believe it will grow by at least 20% per year in the foreseeable future.
Pfizer’s recent acquisition of Wyeth will help. The latter’s pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar, was “one of the most successful product launches in China history,” Gabor said. Wyeth also adds the popular vitamin supplement Centrum, and baby formula which became popular after last year’s melamine scare.
Pfizer’s move comes about 2 months after Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced it will invest $1 billion into an R&D facility in Shanghai.