How emerging biotechs can enter the Chinese market and prosper

Small and emerging biotechs in the United States and Europe have long been wary of trying to enter the Chinese market, despite its vast potential. They’ve shied away due to changing regulatory and reimbursement policies, unreliable intellectual property protections, and fear that the Chinese government may favor domestic firms. But things have changed, and companies don’t need to be hesitant anymore.

Since 2015, a slew of economic and regulatory reforms have improved the Chinese market dynamics for foreign companies. In 2018, the Chinese State Council eliminated tariffs (of 6% to 10%) on all imported cancer drugs and slashed the value-added tax on them from 17% to 3%. In 2020, 28 new drugs from nondomestic companies were approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), faster and more dependably than before. In May 2021, China was reelected for a three-year term to the management committee of the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use, further aligning it with international regulatory standards.

Large international pharma companies often include China because of its market size, and many put it near the top of the list when sequencing global marketing submissions. But how can small and emerging foreign companies with limited resources gain a foothold in the Chinese market? Here are five approaches that help.

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