By 2020, China is planning to have a basic health care system providing “safe, effective, convenient and affordable” health services to urban and rural residents.

This article by Francesca Spigarelli and Andrea Filippetti deals with an analysis of the Chinese pharmaceutical market. First, they provide an overview of the Chinese economic growth, then they analyze the domestic pharmaceutical market and its level of penetration by foreign multinational companies and finally they describe the situation of the traditional Chinese medicine sector, to evaluate the actual position of Chinese as well as of foreign companies. Considering the first section, the authors wonder whether China can be considered a developing country and they conclude that it is inappropriate when analyzing macroeconomic data on production and on the level of openness of the economy abroad. It is underlined that data confirm the effectiveness of the measures taken by the government to change the role and position of China in the world. China has changed its internal market by adopting a strong international vocation and a deep modernization of both the domestic demand and the supply has been achieved. Consumption patterns are also evolving rapidly since Chinese standards of living are more and more similar to the Western ones. This is why China is becoming a market outlet for Western companies. On the supply side, the production structure is constantly improving, inspired by industrialized countries. Even if the presence in the Chinese market is considered as a high-risk, time-consuming and expensive choice, compared to other emerging markets locations, the increasing amount of foreign investment in China is a proof of the attractiveness of the Chinese market for Western pharmaceutical companies. What is worth noting is that producing in China today is no longer synonymous with low labor cost, but also of quality and advanced technology. The infrastructure has been radically reprogrammed, to serve the industry and the mobility of people. Regarding the pharmaceutical field, the Chinese pharmaceutical market is becoming increasingly attractive to Western firms, as it is considered one of the worlds most promising emerging pharmaceutical markets. What is interesting is that both population and the government have achieved certain sensitivity on health-care services and products. The government launched new plans for a massive expansion of the national health care coverage aiming for near-universal health coverage in 2009. By 2020, China is planning to have a basic health care system providing “safe, effective, convenient and affordable” health services to urban and rural residents, according to the Guidelines on Deepening the Reform of Health-care System document. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2016) has also put strong attention on health care and pharmaceutical industries. As a result, the authors of the article underline that the Chinese pharmaceuticals market grew by 17 percent in 2010, reaching a value of USD 25.7 billion and accounting for 18.6 percent of the Asia-Pacific pharmaceuticals market. In 2011, Chinese market growth was forecasted at 25–27 percent. China is expected to increase expenditure on health care from 4.7 percent of GDP to 6–7 per cent in the next years. Even the global financial crisis has not compromised the expenditure boom: at the moment, China is the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical market, but it should become the second-largest by 2020, behind only the United States. The increase in foreign patents in the pharmaceutical industry suggests the presence of an interesting scientific and technological environment for foreign firms.