MRRBIZ: Pharmaceutical Market China and Medical Device Market South Korea

Pharmaceutical Market China and Medical Device Market South Korea

We remain bullish on China's pharmaceutical sector despite the slowdown in the economy and political reshuffle. We do not think the reshuffle will have any adverse changes or cause any reversals to healthcare reform given that the country has been rolling out various healthcare schemes in 2012 and that a key person overseeing these healthcare reform plans is Vice Premier Li Keqiang, the man who may potentially take over from Premier Wen Jiabao in the reshuffle. However, the business environment will potentially be threaten by cost- containment policies as the country will have to contain its ever-growing healthcare expenditure.

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Headline Expenditure Projections

• Pharmaceuticals: CNY432bn (US66.7bn) in 2011to CNY521bn (US$82.2bn) in 2012; +20.6% in local currency and +23.0% in US dollar terms. Forecast broadly in line with Q412.
• Healthcare: CNY2313bn (US$358bn) in 2011 to CNY2,602bn (US$410bn) in 2012; +12.5% in local currency terms and +14.7% in US dollar terms. Forecast broadly in line with Q412.
• Medical Devices: CNY117bn (US$18.2bn) in 2011 to CNY146bn (US$22.8bn) in 2012; +24.3% in local currency terms and +26.7% in US dollar terms. Forecast broadly in line with Q412.

Risk/Reward Rating

China continues to rank fourth out of the 18 key markets in BMI's Q113 Asia Pacific Pharmaceutical Risk/Reward Ratings with an unchanged score of 62.5 Its high ranking on the table (just behind developed markets Japan, South Korea and Australia) is largely due to the strong growth potential of the pharmaceutical market that is underpinned by a large and increasingly affluent population and an increasing burden of non-communication diseases.

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Competitive Landscape

The competitive landscape section provides comparative company analyses and rankings by US$ sales and % share of total sales - for the total pharmaceutical sector, as well as the OTC, generics, and distribution sub-sectors.


South Korea ranks as one of the world's leading economies, with a population approaching 50 million and overall GDP listed among the top 15 in the world at an estimated US$1,212 billion in 2013, equal to US$24,843 per capita,. As a result, much of the population expects a high level of medical care.

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The economy is expected to grow at a real rate of 3.0% in 2013, having grown by an estimated 1.9% in 2012. Growth over the following five years is forecast to average 4.6%. South Korea's future economic growth is likely to be tempered by a shrinking workforce due to the rapidly ageing population and by increasing competition from China as a low-cost manufacturing base.

South Korea has the highest healthcare expenditure of all the 'Asian Tigers', with an estimated 59% funded by the public sector. Almost every citizen is covered by the country's public health insurance system. The government has been forced to implement cost-cutting measures in recent years, owing to a large deficit faced by the healthcare system. Healthcare costs continue to rise, with the country's rapidly aging population adding upward pressure to total spending.

South Korea is well provided for in terms of hospital facilities which are primarily operated by the private sector. There has been a rapid expansion in the number of beds over the past decade and overall provision in hospitals and medical clinics now exceeds 9.0 beds per thousand population, including 5.2 acute hospital beds per thousand population. In recent years, attention has turned to the provision of long term care beds for the elderly and chronically sick to free up space in general hospitals.

From a regulatory and legal point of view, the market is generally regarded as 'difficult'. Government policies are often not transparent, and there is a large degree of favouritism towards local manufacturers. It remains to be seen, but the situation should improve as a result of the Free Trade Agreements signed with the European Union and the USA, which call for more transparency especially in the pricing & reimbursement of medical devices.


Espicom's highly-regarded world medical technology and device market research reports provide enhanced strategic intelligence in a user-friendly format. Each report 

provides in-depth information, setting the medical equipment market in context. The reports provide:

• Unique projected estimates of market size and growth for 33 equipment categories
• Five year statistical data for key economic and healthcare indicators
• Information on regulation, distribution and market access
• Detailed Medical trade data
• Data on leading local/multinational medical equipment players in the market

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• Evaluate the potential of the market
• Assess risks and opportunities on the basis of knowledge
• Profile the market for new product, licences or collaborations
• Understand the operating and regulatory environment
• Gain a complete picture on health expenditure and infrastructure
• Review the competitive environment

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