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GSK to invest more in new drug development
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Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) expects to maintain its fast pace of growth in China with additional investments for development of new medicines and vaccines, according to Amy Huang, vice-president and China director.

"GSK does not intend to cut its budget for China this year. We will on the contrary, invest more for developing new medicines," said Huang.

In 2008, GSK achieved a 12 percent growth in sales in emerging markets. China outperformed the others with a 22 percent increase in sales, while the global numbers fell by 3 percent.

GSK has more than 20 medical projects in China under or to be under clinical research, and the China R&D center has in two years become the largest laboratory in the Asia Pacific region, said Zang Jingwu, senior vice-president and China R&D chief of GSK.

In contrast, the company has closed several manufacturing sites and trimmed its sales force in the US.

Huang said the rapid China sales growth could mainly come from the vaccine sector and prescription drugs.

Major global drug makers have been ramping up their presence in China, partly in anticipation that the country's massive health care reform could unleash big orders in the coming years.

In February, Pfizer set up a $60-million manufacturing facility in northeast China's Dalian city, while Bayer announced plans to invest up to 100 million euros over the next five years for an R&D center in Beijing.

That underlines a growing trend of multinationals transferring their strategic focus to emerging economies like China from the crisis-hit Western markets.

Government data released earlier this month revealed that China's medical sector profits reached 11.5 billion yuan (US$1.69 billion) in the first two month this year, up 22.4 percent year-on-year, the fastest among all industries.

China has pledged to invest 850 billion yuan in the next two years to implement the nation-wide healthcare reform.

On Tuesday, the State Council, China's cabinet, offered more details on the healthcare revamp. The government aims to give every village a medical clinic and every county at least one hospital.

The government will also extend subsidies for insurance premiums to all the 1.3 billion people in the country.

(China Daily April 9, 2009)

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