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Volume 89 Issue 26 | p. 12 | News of The Week
Issue Date: June 27, 2011

Drug Industry Meets In Shanghai

Pharmaceutical Ingredients: Exhibitors at CPhI China note the country’s increasing sophistication
Department: Business
Keywords: CPhI, catalysts, India, APIs
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CPhI China was held in Shanghai last week.
Credit: Jean-François Tremblay/C&EN
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CPhI China was held in Shanghai last week.
Credit: Jean-François Tremblay/C&EN

A record 1,700 exhibitors from China and the rest of the world descended on Shanghai last week for the pharmaceutical ingredients trade show CPhI China. The event provided participants another opportunity to witness the growing savvy of China’s fine chemicals industry.

“Chinese companies are learning what foreign customers are looking for,” said William H. Tamblyn, director of technical commercial development at the catalyst supplier Johnson Matthey. “They are offering increasingly sophisticated products made in facilities that have been inspected and certified.”

China exported $4.4 billion worth of pharmaceutical products in 2010, a 30% rise over 2009, according to official customs data.

The event was a forum for Chinese drug ingredient makers to seek out foreign clients. “There are more and more Chinese exhibitors at this trade show, and yet the number of producers in China is actually coming down,” noted Oliver Ju, CEO of China’s Porton Fine Chemicals. Many producers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the coastal province of Zhejiang are struggling with intense cost pressure as they try to meet increasingly strict environmental regulations, Ju explained.

Some Western firms, such as Johnson Matthey, see business potential in the rise of China’s drug industry. “There’s a lot of talk about China’s rising manufacturing costs,” Tamblyn said. “But you can also look at that as rising affluence and therefore a growing Chinese demand for high-quality pharmaceuticals.”

Chemwerth, a U.S. firm that markets APIs made in China, also sees opportunity. “China wants a strong drug industry, and it’s investing in that,” said CEO Peter J. Werth. “Yet Chinese suppliers have still not had much success selling APIs in the U.S. market on their own.”

Although Chemwerth has traditionally served U.S. customers, interest in Chinese-made APIs is rising elsewhere, according to Werth. Several Indian manufacturers of generic drugs, he explained, rely on Chemwerth’s quality assurance infrastructure in China to source Chinese APIs.

 
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