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China wants its own pharma industry

a woman sorting medicine in the pharmacy of the Yueyang Hospital, part of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
A woman sorting medicine in the pharmacy of the Yueyang Hospital in Shanghai. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

China is a long way from having a vibrant pharmaceutical industry, but is still pressing toward that goal.

Driving the news: A new report is out from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) about China's "Made in China 2025" policy. It notes "China's intention for competing at the higher end of the value chain by innovating new drugs, increasing the quality of its products, achieving self-sufficiency in the domestic market, and increasing exports."

Where it stands: China has been trying to build up its own pharmaceutical industry for a while now.

  • It recently beefed up its version of the FDA, as well as its public health insurance program, to help entice more U.S. companies to see China as a market for sales, not just manufacturing.
  • Chinese companies are now trying to develop and win FDA approval for their own products, The New York Times reported last year, and are teaming up with the U.S. companies who are increasing their research footprint there.

Yes, but: China is a long way away from being able to seriously compete with the U.S. high-end drug industry, or to even be able to meet its own domestic demand.

Go deeper: How China is pulling ahead on AI and biotech

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