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China Emerging as an Innovation Hub for Formulation and Delivery

Lux Research

The rise of Chinese start-ups and the frenzied forays of Western companies into the world’s fastest-growing biopharmaceutical market point to a paradigm change in the industry, says Lux Research.

Boston, MA – February 7, 2012 – A clutch of promising Chinese companies in the formulation and delivery (F/D) market underlines the emergence of the Asian giant as a center for biopharma innovation and entrepreneurship, even as Western pharmaceutical companies continue to enjoy technological and business advantages, according to a Lux Research report titled, “The Expanding Formulation and Delivery Market in China.”

The rise of Chinese companies is most evident in delivery devices, a subsector in which Lepu and Royal Fornia scored rather high in Lux Research’s analysis. Both companies made it into the “Dominant” quadrant on the Lux Innovation Grid, a proprietary analytical framework to evaluate companies – and these Chinese leaders are ready to challenge Western counterparts in the global market, the report said.

“We see early evidence of Chinese biopharma companies looking west for opportunities. Many of these companies are headed up by “Hai Gui,” or returning overseas Chinese trained in the West and comfortable with the idea of competing with western companies,” said Kevin Pang, Lux Research Director and the lead author of the report.

“Obtaining drug, product, and service approval and market validation first in China prior to exporting, especially when many companies are mastering the GMP process, is the lower cost, faster profitability approach many are taking,” he added.

Using the Lux Innovation Grid to analyze and compare China-based F/D developers with their global peers, Lux analysts found that Chinese firms are rapidly gaining on the West. Among their findings:

  • Delivery device maker Lepu has global ambitions. Lepu Medical Technology uses its expertise in nanomaterials to make interventional medical devices such as drug eluting coronary stents and other cardiology products. With 2011 revenues of $120 million, Lepu earns a “Positive” ranking – but it still lags Surmodics, a U.S. firm that earns a “Strong Positive.”

  • Royal Fornia’s cost advantage makes it a formidable competitor. Royal Fornia Medical Equipment, which is rated “Positive,” makes insulin pumps with computer-aided perfusion systems, enabling real-time monitoring and insulin dosage optimization. It enjoys a 30% market share in China and can parlay its 60% cost advantage to expand into other drug dosage optimization systems and other global markets.

  • Western companies marching to China. Merck has acquired Beijing Skywing for biologics production, AstraZeneca purchased Guangdong Beikang for injectables using traditional Chinese medicine as a platform, and Novartis bought Zhejiang Tianyuan Bio-Pharmaceuticals for expanded vaccine development. These moves and more illustrated the frenzied bids by Western companies to get a slice of the booming Chinese market.

The report, titled “The Expanding Formulation and Delivery Market in China,” is part of the Lux Research Formulation and Delivery Intelligence service.