PharmExec Blog

A New Approach to India and China?

Executives faced with mouth-watering growth rates in the Chinese and Indian pharmaceutical markets – as opposed to broad plateaus in the US and Europe – should first think about what they have to offer, instead of what they can grab, according to panelists at the Center for Healthcare Innovation’s inaugural symposium.

Scarcity in both countries represents an entrepreneurial advantage, but drug-makers need to show real-life evidence of better health outcomes. “The goal is to build a solid business facilitated through a strong relationship,” said Dennis Urbaniak, vice president of U.S. diabetes, Sanofi. Companies should ask themselves “What can I bring to the table?” instead of “What can I get from the customer?”

That means being cognizant of the specific needs unique to the individual community, within each country. In India, “government wants development, but doesn’t want their population to be used as guinea pigs” for new drugs, said Jonathan Northrup, CEO at Beta Cat Pharmaceuticals, an Indianapolis-based biotechnology firm. Northrup advised “beginning trials in America, with a well-controlled, good methodological basis,” and then “agreeing to replicate [the trials] in India.” Doctor’s have more influence in China and India, and patients may also consult with their extended families about participation in a clinical trial. “Patient acceptance and informed consent need to be more carefully done” in India and China, said Northrup.

While China and India (with populations of roughly 1.3 and 1.1 billion, respectively) are often grouped together into a single business unit, the countries have more differences than commonalities. With respect to healthcare delivery, China’s cost-controlled environment, with expanding insurance coverage, contrasts with India’s less controlled, and largely out-of-pocket market for medicine. Samir Bhattacharyya, global director of market access at DePuy Mitek, a J&J company focused on orthopaedic sports medicine, described the countries cultural differences: “In India, my father saw me as having an interest in gadgets, and so from an early age, my dad pushed me toward information technology…he wanted me to be successful and make a lot of money,” said Bhattacharyya. “My cousin grew up in China, in a highly structured, regimented environment, where his dad made the decisions about what he should do and when he should do it.” The similarity between the two countries, Bhattacharyya said, is that both “are hungry for information and infrastructure.”

Asked about diabetes care and rural areas in China, Urbaniak cited the importance of getting diabetes education out into primary care, which requires a diligent effort to translate materials into local cultures and languages. The question to ask is, “What are the best ways to integrate into local communities, to benefit lives?” said Urbaniak.

CHI’s first annual symposium – Globalization of Innovation: China, India and USA Pharmaceutical Markets – was held in Chicago on October 7.

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  1. Posted October 27, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    doctors do have more influence in india and china

    they are demi gods

    if clinical trials are carried out let the basics be done and the results well explained to the human guinea pigs and let them be well compensated.

    With the results out let the country where the clinical trials are done also enjoy the fruits of that discovery. Not at $ 50 per pill because INDIA 95 % payment is from out of pocket rather than third part coverage. Treat the country where u are doing your final stage trials rather as a partner and not as a third world cheap place to get yr trials done and be of with it.

  2. Posted October 31, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    there’s definitely a lot of potential in India and China’s pharmaceutical markets, let’s just hope it will go in pair with keeping patients well-informed about the clinical trials – I think Northup came with a really good suggestion in this matter.

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