Outlook for North East Asia Pharmaceuticals Market : Value of US$314.0 billion in 2016 adds report The Outlook for Pharmaceuticals in North East Asia to its store. Detailed analysis of four pharmaceutical markets that present immense potential for pharmaceutical manufacturers. China and Japan will be the largest and second largest pharmaceutical markets in the Asia Pacific region covered by analysts in 2016. The four pharmaceutical markets included in this report are projected to have a total value of US$314.0 billion at retail prices in 2016.

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Diverse markets, diverse opportunities

Geographically located in North East Asia, these four countries are currently undergoing different phases of development, both in overall terms and, more pertinently, in the growth of their respective pharmaceutical markets.

Japan, South Korea and Taiwan represent highly developed pharmaceutical markets with advanced healthcare systems and high levels of spending, both in the private and public sectors. This has inevitably placed a strain on their respective governments that have in recent years tried to temper escalating spending by introducing various cost-containment strategies, including periodical changes to reimbursement prices and the encouragement of generic substitution.

Despite these measures, spending has continued to rise. Key factors are the ageing population and the high healthcare standards that the population has grown to expect. While governments hope to control healthcare costs, the trend suggests health spending will continue to rise in the long run.

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China's big opportunity

China's healthcare provision is somewhat lacking when compared to the other three countries, but it remains one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets in the world, in tandem with the country’s rapid economic expansion. The influx of foreign multinationals has offered continued investment, and production plants and R&D facilities are being expanded all the time. Improvements in regulatory practices are making the ability to sell imported products quicker and easier, while the lowering of tariffs on imported goods and an increase in transparency of legislation has made a notoriously hard-to-penetrate market a more attractive proposition for overseas companies. These are positive moves, but concerns remain in key areas such as IPR protection.

Highlights from the region


The Ministry of Health (MoH) has made lowering drug prices a top priority for health authorities in 2011. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) implemented two rounds of drug price reductions in 2011, one in March and the other in September. Most of the drugs reduced were manufactured by multinationals, which had previously not been subject to pricing controls. In terms of regulatory developments, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) started to inspect overseas manufacturing facilities in November 2011, as the agency seeks to align its practices with international standards. In July 2011, the MoH revealed that it may introduce mandatory licensing policy to secure cheaper drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, as part of the country’s universal health coverage programme.


The government and Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare have sought to increase generic drug usage to around 30% by 2012. From the experience of other countries, this would imply a sales value level of roughly 10%, should the volume target be reached. The Japan Generic Medicines Association estimates that generic drugs sales accounted for just under 10% of pharmaceutical sales by value and nearly a quarter of pharmaceutical sales by volume in 2011. There were a number of competitive strategies completed in the second half of 2011: Teva acquired Kowa’s 50% stake in the Teva-Kowa Pharma JV; Teva completed its acquisition of Taiyo; and Fujifilm and Dr Reddy's Laboratories signed a MoU to establish a JV.


The implementation of the KORUS & EU-Korea Free-Trade Agreements (FTAs) will affect the South Korean pharmaceutical market. In November 2011, the KORUS FTA was approved, which is set to come into effect in January 2012. The KORUS FTA will include the phasing-out of tariffs for US drug companies and the introduction of a patent linkage system, whereby drug companies are unable to produce and sell generic drugs until the original patent expires. In July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA was implemented and is expected to increase the volume and value of EU pharmaceuticals to South Korea due to an elimination of tariffs on EU exports. It also aims to ensure the strengthening of transparency in drug pricing decisions.


The government is investing heavily in biotechnology research capability and this has helped to encourage growth in the Taiwanese biologic sector. The government’s “Diamond Action Plan for Biotech Takeoff” programme aims to double the annual output of the country’s biotechnology industry by 2013. There were a number of competitive strategies completed in 2011: the government-sponsored Supra Integration and Incubation Centre (Si2C) was opened for business, which provides support for pharmaceutical companies to develop biologic drugs; Polaris Group revealed plans to invest US$50.0 million in a new protein-injection factory; and TaiMed Biologics signed a definitive agreement with Ambrilia Biopharma for protease inhibitor and integrase inhibitor programmes for HIV.

Use these original and insightful reports to...

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  • Track the latest developments with the news service that is included for every country.
  • Understand the critical issues and drivers which are shaping the market.
  • Evaluate the environment for branded and generic operators and stay in touch with the fast growing biologic sector.
  • Shape and support business plans and decisions with reliable business data.
  • Benchmark key market performance with standardised data.

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