Further collaborations formed to penetrate China’s generics market

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The Chinese pharmaceutical market is the second largest in the world, and generic drugs make up 70% of its value. Continued growth of China’s generics industry is anticipated owing to rapid population ageing and government policies to promote generics [1]. It is therefore not surprising that generic drug manufacturers are keen to penetrate this market, and indeed over the last few months there have been a number of collaborations with this objective [2-4]. Most recently, Japanese drugmakers Eisai and Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical entered into a collaboration agreement to sell generic drugs in China, while Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (Sun Pharma) partnered with China Medical System Holdings (CMS) to develop and commercialise generics in China.


Nichi-Iko and Eisai announced their comprehensive collaboration agreement on 30 September 2019. Under this agreement, Nichi-Iko will supply its generic medicines to Eisai’s subsidiary in China, which will then distribute the products after Nichi-Iko obtains the approval for import and sales in China. Eisai and Nichi-Iko plan to launch one or two products each year in China, beginning from 2024. The partners will select the appropriate products based on the needs of the Chinese market. They will choose the first two products for sale in China in 2019.

This agreement will strengthen Eisai’s Chinese generics business, which was established in 2015, by allowing it to address a broader range of medical needs in China. Nichi-Iko aims to enter the Chinese market leveraging Eisai's business foundation in China, as part of its strategic imperatives of business expansion and global operation.

This is not the first collaboration between the two companies. In March 2018, Nichi-Iko and Eisai entered into a strategic alliance agreement which aimed to expand and grow their generic pharmaceuticals businesses in Japan. As part of this broader partnership, Nichi-Iko acquired Eisai’s generics subsidiary, Elmed, to co-promote five products.

On 16 August 2019, Indian pharmaceutical company Sun Pharma announced a partnership with CMS to develop and commercialise generic drugs in mainland China. This collaboration covers eight generic drug products, with a total addressable market size of US$1 billion (according to IQVIA data). The initial term of the agreement will be 20 years from the first commercial sale of the respective products, and this may be extended for an additional three years provided it is agreed between the two parties.

Dilip Shanghvi, Managing Director of Sun Pharma said, ‘This collaboration gives us entry into the Chinese generic pharmaceutical market. We see lots of potential in China for both our generics and speciality portfolio. With more than 65% generics penetration, China represents a significant opportunity for generic pharmaceutical companies’.

In June 2019, Sun Pharma announced a collaboration with CMS on two speciality products for the Greater China market; cyclosporine eye drops and tildrakizumab for plaque psoriasis.

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. China issues list of generics needed in the country [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Oct 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/General/China-issues-list-of-generics-needed-in-the-country
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. iBio and CC-Pharming collaborate for rituximab copy biological in China [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Oct 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars/News/iBio-and-CC-Pharming-collaborate-for-rituximab-copy-biological-in-China
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Celltrion and Nan Fung Group form joint venture for copy biologicals in China [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Oct 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/Celltrion-and-Nan-Fung-Group-form-joint-venture-for-copy-biologicals-in-China
4. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Shanghai Pharma and Russia’s Biocad form joint venture to sell cancer and autoimmune drugs in China [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2019 Oct 18]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Pharma-News/Shanghai-Pharma-and-Russia-s-Biocad-form-joint-venture-to-sell-cancer-and-autoimmune-drugs-in-China

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