With the recent implementation of the Health Care Reform Plan in April of 2009, which aims to provide affordable health care for the entire population of China by 2020, there has been a significant market expansion and new demand for pharmaceuticals. Besides changing policy, the increasing wealth, an ageing population and shifting urbanization demographics all contribute to the increased demand for more pharmaceuticals. As the reform's main goal is to provide affordable medical care for the entire Chinese population by 2020, an emphasis on low cost and high volume pharmaceuticals is necessary, highlighting the demand for generic drugs as seen on the government developed National Essential Drug List.
In 1995, government statistics estimated that the total consumption in China for healthcare products in 1995 was only US$8.3 billion, a mere 3.2% of the worldwide consumption of US$259 billion. By 2000, it was estimated that consumption reached US$25 billion and by 2001, US$89 billion. In the implementation process of the health care reform between 2009 and 2011, the Chinese government committed US$137 billion to focus on restructuring the entire health care system. Thus, in the view of continuing improvement in living and health care standards, rapid growth can be foreseen in the next ten years.
However, there is a large barrier that prevents the importing of generic pharmaceutical products into Mainland China in the form of heavy tariffs and stringent regulatory requirements. Our recent experience shows that it takes at least 18 months and US$200,000 for registering a new imported generic drug in China. We predict that this barrier will NOT be lessened in the near future.