Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that the Chinese hepatitis C virus drug market, dominated by conventional and pegylated interferons, will more than double by 2012 from $64 million in 2007 to $150 million in 2012. Sales of interferons will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21 percent, led by a 30 percent CAGR of pegylated interferons such as Roche's Pegasys/Schering-Plough's Peg-Intron. The robust growth of Pegasys/Peg-Intron sales will result from the high cost of therapy and the expansion of patient share in China.
According to the new Emerging Markets report entitled Hepatitis C Virus in China, the most important factors driving the growth of the Chinese hepatitis C drug market are the high number of prevalent cases, the expanding diagnosed and drug-treated populations and changes in medical practice. The latter is expected to translate into greater drug use and expanded use of premium-priced products for a greater proportion of the patient population. Nearly 46 million people in China have chronic hepatitis C, more than four times the sum of hepatitis C infections in all seven major pharmaceutical markets -- United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Japan.
"Changes in medical practice, influenced by Western practices and by increased physician knowledge of hepatitis C infection and treatment, will promote greater use of more effective therapies, such as Pegasys/Peg-Intron based regimens, although they are expensive in China," says Jing Wu, analyst at Decision Resources. "We expect most changes in medical practice to occur in urban China, in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to name a few, during our forecast period."
The report also finds that the most significant challenge in treating the disease is to increase diagnosis rates so that patients can be managed before late-stage liver disease occurs.
"Because of this challenge in treating the disease, hepatitis C drug makers can exploit opportunities to focus disease awareness campaigns on specific geographic regions of China or to target specific high-risk patient populations. In particular, initiatives that target injection drug users in several southern provinces for improved screening could increase the hepatitis C diagnosis rate," Ms. Wu adds.
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