China Today: Vaccine Development in China

Improvements in China's regulatory and technology scenario are creating an optimistic outlook for its vaccine industry
Mar 31, 2007


Eliza Yibing Zhou
The global vaccine market has grown phenomenally over the past decade and is expected to exceed $10 billion in 2007. With the world's largest population and 17 million newborn babies each year, China is the world's fourth largest vaccine market. In China, vaccines represent a market worth over 3 billion RMB ($388 million), and this market is growing at 15% annually, reports Dr. Jianyuan Liu, associate director of National Vaccine and Serum Institute (NVSI) in the study, Advances in Biopharmaceutical Technology in China.1 Today, China has the largest vaccine manufacturing capabilities and capacity in the world. Dr. Liu and his colleagues also predict that China's vaccine market demand will rise to 20% in the next few years. Recent improvements in China's regulatory, market, and technology scenario are creating an optimistic outlook for its vaccine industry.

VACCINE CLASSIFICATION

In China vaccines are classified into two categories: government "planned immunization" vaccines and "nonplanned immunization" or "charged" vaccines (Table 1). The first category of vaccines is subsidized and ordered by the government, and eventually supplied to Chinese citizens (mostly children) at no charge. The second category is for-profit with high margins of 30–40% for imported vaccines and more than 50% for domestic vaccines.1 These are "charged for," or "nonplan-ned"vaccines, produced by manufacturers based on the market demand. The charged vaccines may be purchased by consumers voluntarily. The market for the first category of vaccines is controlled by the government and the second is open to domestic or international companies. These two markets are predicted to grow to roughly equal market shares ultimately.2

MARKET BACKGROUND

Large population, many newborns

China's population reached 1.3 billion in 2005 and will approach 1.4 billion in the next decade. The state has managed to control its birth rate to between 1.2% and 1.3%. Each year, approximately 17 million Chinese babies are born and all are suppose to receive vaccination. Based on this number, the following vaccine doses are needed each year for newborn babies:1

  • Poliomyelitis vaccine 68 million doses
  • Diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine 68 million doses
  • Hepatitis B vaccine 51 million doses
  • Measles vaccine 34 million doses
  • BCG vaccine 17 million doses

Enhancing disease prevention awareness in adults


Table 1. Vaccine classification in China
With the progress in public healthcare policy, hygiene education, and increased vaccine advertising programs operated by the government, an increasing number of Chinese are realizing the importance of preventive medicines. More Chinese are voluntarily spending on preventative vaccinations to reduce potential threats from prevalent diseases such as hepatitis B and influenza.