2019 life sciences market outlook.

strict drug rules in china lead to demands for overseas drugs.

When the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) abolished a rule that required companies to repeat all drug trials on the Chinese population in October 2017, authorities were able to fast-track drug approvals and narrow the drug lag to less than 18 months.

This change was implemented to address the escalating demands from the Chinese population for quality drugs that were previously approved in the US and Europe. In the past, people living in China will have to wait up to four years for a drug to be approved as healthcare companies will need to repeat clinical trials on the Chinese population - a time that many patients do not have the luxury to spare.

Since the rule was introduced, the Chinese population has more access to better quality drugs from the west. Some pharmaceutical companies have even decided to launch some of their products in China first to address the pressing healthcare demands. This means that the Hong Kong population will also benefit, as they will have priority access to innovative drugs before their western counterparts.

National healthcare expenditure is expected to increase as a result of the aging population and the rising number of cases of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and dementia. However, hospital bed occupancy is at an all-time-high and healthcare institutions are stretching their resources to address the growing patient population.

More medical device companies have also started setting up operations in Hong Kong, to develop home-based equipment and orthopaedic tools catering to local patients. With the government injecting a further HKD$40 billion investment into this space, we expect to see robust developments in the Hong Kong Science Park as more global biomedical companies establish their presence in Hong Kong.

There is also a very strong physician lobby in Hong Kong, driving the demand and sales of over-the-counter products to patients to reduce unnecessary consultation time. A stronger focus on patient education and medicinal drug use has also increased patients’ confidence to self-medicate minor illnesses.

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