A Drug Bust in China

By Fish, Isaac Stone | Newsweek, November 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

A Drug Bust in China


Fish, Isaac Stone, Newsweek


Byline: Isaac Stone Fish

China has a big pharmaceutical problem. A recent UNESCO report said that deep-pocketed China will soon rival the U.S., Europe, and Japan in scientific research and development spending. But the news came with a telling caveat: the People's Republic lags in the key area of "innovation." Indicative is the performance of China's pharmaceutical industry, which remains absolutely soporific. Beijing has made medical innovation a priority (in addition to the real gains it's made on building and engineering), but its drug labs prove there are still some things money can't buy.

The country has poured billions into research and development, and last year pledged $125 billion toward health-care reform. It produces more raw ingredients for drugs than any other country in the world, yet in development, quality, and reputation, it lags far behind developed countries like the U.S. and Germany as well as other big emerging markets like India. In fact, last year Chinese firms were caught using "Made in India" labels to sell fake antimalarial drugs in Africa. Not a single drug developed by a Chinese company has been approved by the FDA. …

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