Dateline: China, 15 April 2015 (Go to Chinese publication)
Both pharmaceutical companies and their suppliers share an optimistic view on the Chinese biopharmaceutical market
As China strengthens its legal system and pharmaceutical companies demand increasingly advanced technologies, Merck Millipore, a technology-based company that provides products and services for biopharmaceutical companies, sees big opportunities for expansion in the Chinese market.
As pharmaceutical companies shift their focus from conventional chemical drugs to biological drugs, more upstream companies, which provide products and services for pharmaceutical companies, are also seizing new business opportunities. Merck Millipore, the life science division of Merck, is seeing its fastest growth in the Chinese market, and plans to expand its Chinese market share from 5-6% to 8-9%.
Merck Millipore was established in 2010 through the acquisition of Millipore by the Merck Group, and the company achieved total revenues of over €11.3 billion (about 74.89 billion yuan) in 2014. It is one of the Merck Group's two core businesses, along with Merck Serono (Merck's pharmaceutical division), and one of the top three life science suppliers worldwide. Merck Millipore's business focuses mainly on providing solutions to support research in the field of life sciences, with more than 60,000 kinds of products, covering a wide range of needs, including pharmaceutical processes.
"China is a very attractive and growing market. The laboratory and pharmaceutical sectors are growing at 2.5 times the global average rate," said Udit Batra, CEO and President of Merck Millipore. During his recent visit to China, he said the company plans to increase its market share in China in alignment with its share of the global market.
Merck Millipore's optimistic view is based on two trends. The first is the robust pipeline of new drugs coming into the market, demonstrated by the FDA's approval of 41 new drugs last year, 10 of which are bio-pharmaceuticals, suggesting the huge potential of the biopharmaceutical market globally, and also in China where these new products will be sold. The other trend is the popularity of biosimilars; a subject being hotly discussed both in China and around the world.
Merck Millipore currently leads China's lab water market, and has installed nearly 20,000 pure water laboratory devices in China. However, Udit Batra's objective is not limited to this. "Merck Millipore's development in China still has room for improvement. While we have a 8% - 9% share of the global market, Merck Millipore has only a 5% - 6% share of the Chinese market. We still have huge potential for development in China," said Udit Batra in an interview with Jiemian.com.
It is not easy to clearly sum up this company's business in a few words, but these technologies that sound dry to industry outsiders are at the core of Merck Millipore's business, and represent some of the most in-demand products and services in the Chinese market, according to Udit Batra.
As the biopharmaceutical industry goes through a phase of rapid development, the efficiency of companies' R&D and production processes will play a key role in determining their market competitiveness.
When the Ebola virus crisis unfolded last year, Merck Millipore provided equipment and process solutions to companies working on developing Ebola vaccines. Disposable bioreactors are a lower cost option for companies, and help to improve safety levels due to their closed, pollution-free systems. They also allow manufacturers to produce and deliver products rapidly in a relatively simple and costly-effective manner. Udit Batra said: "Vaccines are produced using inactive viruses. Ebola is a highly dangerous virus, and the closed system used by disposable bioreactors is conductive to promoting safety while working on developing vaccines."
"We have also developed Amnis imaging flow cytometry; an unmatched technology which is unique in the industry," said Udit Batra. Compared with conventional flow cytometry, it enables direct analysis of individual cells, including locating individual proteins and genes within single cells, via a unique cell imaging technique.
As Chinese regulations and standards get stricter, pharmaceutical companies are coming under more pressure to improve their R&D and production processes. Udit Batra therefore foresees a big opportunity to expand his business in the Chinese market. "(We are developing) a comprehensive development plan in China, including our cooperation projects in research and development, productivity improvement, localization of manufacturing facilities, as well as refining our entire business operations," Udit Batra said.