China Today: Vaccine Development in China - Improvements in China's regulatory and technology scenario are creating an optimistic outlook for its vaccine industry - BioPharm International


China Today: Vaccine Development in China
Improvements in China's regulatory and technology scenario are creating an optimistic outlook for its vaccine industry

BioPharm International
Volume 20, Issue 4

Privately-owned companies such as Shenzhen Kangtai, Beijing Sinovac, Changchun Changsheng, and Zhejiang Tianyuan have been actively involved in charged vaccine manufacturing since the early 1990s. These companies are becoming very competitive because of their flexible capital advantages and market awareness. Sinovac, for example, has taken the lead in developing vaccines for SARS and avian flu.

Because the Chinese government restricts foreign companies to set up vaccine manufacturing facilities or even seek Chinese contract manufacturing partners, so far, only two foreign vaccine manufacturers, Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline, have established repacking facilities in China. Other major vaccine importers include Merck and Chiron (Novartis Vaccine). Also, Pfizer is planning to enter the Chinese vaccine market after acquiring PowderMed in 2006.

Table 2 and Table 3 summarize vaccine manufacturers and products in China. Table 4 lists the major pipeline products.2


In the current Chinese market, domestic products completely control the planned immunization vaccine market. Foreign companies are only permitted to be involved in the charged vaccine market. This has restricted the imported products market, which accounts for only 10% of the business. In terms of single product share, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, rabies, and influenza vaccines have the chunk of the market share in China. China's current vaccine market size is RMB 3 billion ($388 million) and is expected to reach RMB 10–15 billion ($1.3 billion–1.9 billion) by 2010, based on market growth trends.1 The market perspective is very promising.

Chinese domestic vaccine manufacturers are now facing challenges as a growing number of imported products are entering the market. Domestic vaccines have dominated the Chinese market for decades, thanks to government protection and lower prices. However, the vaccine market competition is now transferring from the former price-competition model to a technology-competition model. The question posed in China today is how competitive are its domestic vaccine manufacturers compared with the multinational giants.

"Which other country (than China) in the world would be able to satisfy the needs of vaccines for 1.3 billion people?" asked Dr. Weidong Yin, CEO of Sinovac Biotech. "Only we Chinese people can help ourselves. We will master core technologies and protect national security and public prevent public crisis such as pandemic influenza, the key is to develop Chinese-owned vaccine products." As a young biotech player, Sinovac has impressed the industry by its achievements in developing China's first hepatitis A vaccine, the world's second combined hepatitis A and B vaccine, and the world's first SARS vaccine.

Given the demographics, healthcare policy, and national needs, we believe there is a promising future for the Chinese vaccine industry.

Eliza Yibing Zhou is project director for research programs on China and India, BioPlan Associates, 307.921.9074,


1. Liu JY, Wang N. Vaccines in China. Advances in Biopharmaceutical Technology in China. BioPlan Associates, Inc. and Society for Industrial Microbiology. 2006; 9:22.

2. Wang J. Small vaccines contain big market (in Chinese). Guide of China Medicine. 2005;12:98-99.

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