As biopharma are looking more and more into outsourcing their bio-processing capabilities, the topic of China has continuously been raised. Whether one outsources abroad or not, China's cell culture market is an increasingly substantial one. As China's biopharmas and biotechs gain increasing resources for their R&D, process development and scale up manufacturing activities, their presence in the cell culture market expands exponentially.
There is no doubt that the US market is still the most mature of all geographical markets. However, in light of that, China as an emerging market for cell culture products is undeniable. And an attractive market for outsourcing as well.
The competition within the Chinese market itself, between local start ups and outside biopharma coming in, has been a driving factor for this increased presence in the industry. This competition has continuously forced companies to improve their bio-processing capabilities, in order to decrease the time it takes to get a biologic to market. The same competition applies within the Western market. And in order to decrease time to market, China offers a number of outsourcing solutions. Western biopharma are collaborating with sub-parties or CRO companies based in this region and staggering their programs between to the two regions to make most efficient use of all resources and decrease idle time.
Furthermore, one has to consider the biosimilar market erupting in this industry. Although still a small market in China, local companies are increasingly getting chased for outsourcing capabilities to produce these generic products.
However, there are still a number of differences in this market to consider. Usually, a Chinese company is weaker in infrastructure when compared to the U.S. with lower GMP standards. There are still only a few manufacturing facilities for biologic products in China. Furthermore, there are major hurdles in China's R&D efforts when compared to the United States, especially due to the time it takes to produce and approve all required documentation for local regulation. Regulation in China is unclear at best, and has been slower in creating clear requirements for pharma in order to accommodate all safety concerns than the US.
In sum, China is a rapidly growing market and there are a number of potential growth opportunities for the big Western companies looking to enter the East. The economy overall is growing, with an incredible recent surge in the the healthcare market as well.
The question is now: how do you join forces between the West and the East as organically as possible?