The market for opioid painkillers is booming in China, the Financial Times reports (paywall), as caution over addiction dating back to the Opium Wars — when more than one in four adult males got hooked on opium imported by the British — has eased and government prescription guidelines have been updated. Sales of painkillers rose 20 percent in China in 2016, more than twice the rate of the overall drug market.
What else is behind the rise?
- Cancer rates are rising, particularly lung cancer as air pollution takes its toll. Opioid painkillers are commonly prescribed for managing chronic pain.
- Chinese have spent more on dental surgery, and scheduled more of other kinds of surgical procedures, also adding to demand.
- Foreign drug companies, particularly from the U.S., where they face decreased growth in profits as a backlash to America’s opioid epidemic, are advertising in hospitals. FT reports that “more than 6,000 hospitals across China viewed online lectures hosted by Mundipharma’s platform to promote pain treatment some 64,000 times.” Mundipharma produces OxyContin, a brand of painkiller particularly notorious for contributing to dependency and overdose in the United States.
The FT article did not comment on implications of a possible black market in China for OxyContin.
Other recent news on China’s booming drug sales:
- Caixin reports that third-party pharmacies are getting a boost from government regulations that eliminate surcharges from hospital pharmacies, where patients had previously been directed to pick up their prescriptions. Pharmacies outside of hospitals are expected to see sales rise 10-15 percent each year through 2020, and online drug sales are expected to grow 50 percent annually through 2020.
- Huahai Pharmaceutical is investing in a 1 billion yuan ($153 million) biopharmaceutical industrial park in Hangzhou to meet the rising demand for drugs, according to Caixin. Huahai’s primary business is making the active ingredients of drugs for other companies to use.
Intellectual property and luxury handbags
LVMH lawsuit reveals sophisticated counterfeiting tactics and offers brands guidance / Jing Daily
China launches campaign to protect foreign intellectual property rights as US probes alleged thefts / SCMP
Buying a green card
How rich Chinese use visa fixers to move to the U.S. / Bloomberg Businessweek (paywall)
Trump’s threats loom as China weighs opening to wall street, Tesla / Bloomberg
China is refusing to cede ground as US issues trade threats / CNBC
China considers opening up to foreign electric carmakers / Bloomberg
Buffett-backed BYD looks overcharged on China electric car bets / Bloomberg
China’s COMAC Reports 130 New Orders for C919 Planes / Caixin
Bitcoin and blockchain
China’s IT ministry backs new blockchain research lab / CoinDesk
China’s bitcoin clampdown is likely here to stay, analysts say / CNBC