One of the few foreign firms that has managed to break into the Chinese over-the-counter (OTC) and pharmaceutical medicine market is Hutchison China Meditech (Chi-Med).
Chi-Med, which is a subsidiary of conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and listed on London’s AIM market, runs three business lines: a Chinese health care business, a pharmaceutical R&D business developing Western drugs from Chinese medicines, and a consumer products business selling high-end health care products based on Chinese herbs in Europe.
According to Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg, Hutchison Whampoa’s long history in Hong Kong has given Chi-Med a level of market access that few other firms have.
“The Hutchison Whampoa name and backing is a great calling card for us,” he said. “If we were doing this without the Hutchison name I think it would be very difficult.”
Chi-Med’s Chinese medicine business operates through two joint ventures in which the firm has invested around US$50 million. The health care business saw sales growth of 28% to US$61.4 million in 2007. Hogg expects sales to top US$80 million this year.