Drug major sees better China sales

08:27, December 24, 2009      

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Drug maker Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) expects the pace of sales in China to accelerate due to government initiatives to improve public healthcare, said Michel Vounatsos, president of MSD China.

The size of MSD's China business will grow by 20 percent in the near future, the president said in an interview with China Daily.

"The signs are positive for pharmaceutical companies in China," said Vounatsos. "The problem is how to participate in the remarkable reforms."

In late November, one of its best selling products named Zocor, a cholesterol-lowering medication, was included in the government's Essential Drug List, making Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based MSD - known as Merck & Co Inc in the USA - the first multinational pharmaceutical company to be nominated.

The Essential Drug List is a central part of the government's healthcare reform program, which covers 300-plus categories of drugs designed to provide medicines to patients with affordable pricing.

"The price of Zocor will be reduced by more than 50 percent and so will our profit," the executive said.

Amongst cholesterol-lowering medicines available in the nation's hospitals, Zocor ranks second by market share. Industry watchers say the drug maker's elevation to the government list puts it on the fast track to brand building.

China initiated healthcare reforms early this year, promising an 850 billion yuan investment in the sector over three years.

According to IMS Health, an industry consulting firm, China's pharmaceutical market is expected to rise from the world's sixth largest to the third in 2011.

Source: China Daily
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