In China, Quintiles believes its local, local, local strategy is paying off as it rapidly expands business operations in that country.

A new report about biopharma business opportunities in theworld’s most populous country from the Economist Intelligence Unit – which Quintiles sponsored – cites a strategy that the RTP-based firm says its already following.

“The new report’s findings echo our own experience in China – it’s essential to ‘understand local, think local and be local,’” said Ling Zhen, the vice resident for Greater China Region at Quintiles. “We are increasing our own investment and infrastructure in China to help our biopharma customers efficiently enter or expand in this dynamic market of 1.3 billion people.”

A survey of life science executives found that 56 percent of companies are looking to step up business in China, which is projected to become the second largest biopharma market in the world behind the U.S. by 2016.

Findings include:

  • “A local presence in China has translated into success for biopharma companies: 61% of respondents with operations in China had sales that met or exceeded moderate-to-high expectations in the last three years, compared to just 36% for those with no such operations;
  • “Low income levels among Chinese households (60% of China’s 403 million households had an annual income over $5,000 in 2011) and patchy market data can create unique challenges for biopharma who are more used to operating in developed markets;
  • “Proactively adapting to the regulatory environment can save time and money; companies often find that obtaining approval for new medications can take five years longer in China than in other markets, and innovative strategies are required.”

“The projected growth rate in China of 19 percent year-on-year between 2009 and 2016 is due mostly to rising incomes and an ageing population, providing an opportunity that the industry cannot afford to miss,” said Paul Kielstra, the author of the report.

Quintiles is already expanding China operations with a new regional headquarters in Shanghai, more lab testing capabilities and a new local clinical research organization as well as a new drug development effort.