Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

China's Most Valuable Drugmaker Sees Sales Surge on Global Push

China’s largest drugmaker by market value forecast a revenue surge in the second half of this year as more of its drugs get approved overseas and said it plans to bolster its international presence over time through deals of up to $2 billion.

Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. is looking to buy companies making both generic and innovative pharmaceuticals, Sun Piaoyang, its chairman and founder said in an interview on the sideline of China’s National People’s Congress meeting. 

Hengrui has invested heavily to gain access to the U.S., the world’s largest pharmaceutical market and the company’s oncology injection therapy Docetaxel was recently approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration. While President Donald Trump has vowed to bring drug manufacturing back to the U.S. and to reduce prices through government bidding, Sun said that Hengrui is unlikely to be affected because it sells mainly generic drugs in the U.S., which typically help bring down costs.

Hengrui expects some major products to gain overseas approvals in the second half of this year, providing a "relatively large" boost to sales, said Sun.

The Chinese drugmaker is seeking to build its expertise in innovative products. China’s local market is mainly dominated by copycat drugs, and the drugmaker is hunting for innovative drugmakers whose portfolios line up with Hengrui’s, according to Sun. The company is also looking for generic drug companies with an expertise in complex drug formulations as potential acquisition targets.

Chinese health-care companies have rushed to make overseas acquisitions to diversify from a heavily competitive market at home. Among the most prominent deals, Humanwell Healthcare Group, a Chinese maker of anesthetics and contraceptives, bought U.S.-based generic drug maker Epic Pharma LLC for $550 million. Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., backed by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, has agreed to buy Indian drugmaker GlandPharma Ltd. for about $1.3 billion to gain drug factories that supply to the U.S.

— With assistance by Hui Li

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