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Drugmakers hope new rules will slow China sales slide

2017-5-17 14:37| 发布者: 悠儿| 查看: 177| 评论: 0

摘要: The world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, which are struggling with pricing pressures in China, are hoping that wider access to drugs and a faster approval process will boost sales.China is the w ...
The world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, which are struggling with pricing pressures in China, are hoping that wider access to drugs and a faster approval process will boost sales.

China is the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market with sales worth $116.7bn in 2016, according to QuintilesIMS. But the spread of public health insurance has handed provincial governments greater power over prices.

A range of companies have reported slowing or even falling sales in China, with Merck saying its sales there fell 3 per cent in the first quarter.

GlaxoSmithKline blamed a 5 per cent drop in first-quarter sales of its “established” products partly on competitive pressure on its hepatitis drug Zeffix in China. That came after a 12 per cent decline in its China sales last year that the company blamed on “healthcare reforms including price reductions”.

AstraZeneca said its China sales increased 7 per cent in the first quarter to $782m after sales growth of 10 per cent in 2016 and 15 per cent in 2015.

Sanofi said its sales in China grew 9 per cent in 2016, about half the rate of the previous year.

At the heart of the multinationals’ struggle is the breakdown of a status quo established in the early 2000s that allowed overseas companies to sell at a premium branded drugs that had lost patent protection — in many cases three to five times the price of comparable generic medicines.

But that market began to shrink after 2011 alongside the rollout of public health insurance, which covers up to 80 per cent of the cost of selected drugs. The system includes a tendering process in which companies and provincial governments negotiate prices. Since then, prices have fallen as each province uses the lowest price established elsewhere as the starting point in negotiations.

“In the past different companies have enjoyed special status. If you have off-patent drugs you can have room to manoeuvre in pricing. But that’s gone,” says Xu Ming, vice-president of China’s chamber of commerce for import and export medicines. Foreign companies should “forget about the special status they have enjoyed”, he adds.

In the past year Beijing has rolled out policies banning state hospitals, responsible for more than 80 per cent of pharmaceutical sales, from padding the price of the drugs they distribute.

Underfunded hospitals make up that lost revenue by seeking to buy drugs for less than the prices set by provinces, making the policy “an incentive to negotiate the price to go downward”, says Gordon Liu, a healthcare economics expert at Peking University.

The reform does have a bright spot for the drug companies — the state co-payment cuts costs for patients, making drugs covered by the programme affordable to a wider group.

In February, China added 130 new compounds to the roughly 1,200 eligible for reimbursement. The update was heralded by multinationals as a way to boost the reach of their products in China. Sellers of branded drugs tend to receive reimbursement priority over Chinese generics, which have faced questions about quality.

But joining the list comes with price pressure. GSK slashed the price of its hepatitis drug Viread in China by two-thirds last year, and AstraZeneca halved the price of cancer drug Iressa.

Sales by most multinationals outpaced the overall market last year in China, which saw just 1 per cent value growth. That is partly because their portfolios are more adapted to a new wave of chronic conditions hitting China as it ages and becomes richer. Sanofi says its oncology division was the star performer in the country last year.

Drug companies are also pinning their hopes on draft regulations that could dramatically speed up the approval process for medicines, which can take up to five years longer than in Europe and the US. The regulations propose abolishing a requirement that overseas trials be at an advanced stage before the approval process in China starts.

The proposed rules will mean drugs can be launched in China “almost at the same time” as in advanced economies, says Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi’s head of emerging markets. “As the middle class get richer?.?.?.?they want to ensure access to the most innovative drugs.”

But here too, companies will face pricing pressure: China’s State Council has said new drugs will be approved only on condition “the price is not higher than the country of origin or comparable prices in countries near to China”.

China’s health ministry says 45 mostly on-patent drugs are targeted for price-reducing negotiations this year.

















赛诺菲新兴市场部门主管奥利维耶?沙尔梅(Olivier Charmeil)表示,这一拟议中的规定将意味着,药品在中国能够与在发达经济体“几乎同时”推出。“随着中产阶级越来越富有……他们希望确保能用上最具创新性的药品。”









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