BCG offers a fascinating look at what is at stake for big pharma in China. For that reason alone it is worth reading if you have even the least interest in healthcare in the PRC.
The report’s omissions are glaring, however. Perhaps because it would be impolitic to mention, the report avoids the really tricky questions around pharma in China today. One glaring example: it fails to mention the industry’s long-standing dependence on unsavory practices to get drugs prescribed, and how such behavior places the entire pharmaceuticals industry at risk of heavy-handed government intervention.
As the GSK case proved last summer, the growing focus on healthcare at the highest levels in China’s policy-making apparatus means that the pharma business needs to clean up its act, lest it become a victim of China’s healthcare boom rather than a beneficiary.
BCG’s researchers and consultants almost certainly knew this was a danger long before the GSK case came to light. That they did not bring this out in the report – that they pulled their punches – reduces what deserves to be an industry primer to the level of little more than marketing collateral.
BCG’s report is an essential piece in understanding the pharmaceutical business in China today. It should be read with an ample dip into the news that has come out since its publication.