Pfizer Eyes Expansion In China

Pfizer intends to ramp up its sales force to capitalise on the increasingly affluent population in C

Jean-Michel Halfon, president of emerging-markets business at Pfizer, said that the drug maker intends to increase its sales force from 2,300 in approximately 180 cities to about 3,200 across 250 cities in China.

Pfizer is also seeking partnership deals with Chinese drugmakers. Reportedly, the US drug giant has set up a business development group in Shanghai anticipating a wave of consolidation in the Chinese drug market.

According to IMS Health, a Connecticut-based firm that supplies the pharmaceutical industry with sales data and consulting services, China is poised to emerge as the third biggest pharmaceutical market by 2011, behind the US and Japan.

Major drug makers like GSK are looking at emerging markets to compensate for the decline in some developed markets. Pfizer's China strategy is part of a broader push into emerging markets including Brazil, India and Mexico. Pfizer expects about 70% of its growth over the next five years to come from these markets.

Pfizer's emerging-market presence was boosted by its recent acquisition of Wyeth, which, it claimed, added about 35% to its revenue in these areas. The Wyeth deal also bolstered Pfizer's work force in emerging-markets from 14,000 before the deal to about 19,000.

Mr Halfon said: "China is ready for consolidation. There is an opportunity for Pfizer to play a catalyst role and be a potential partner for these companies. The idea that emerging markets aren't profitable is more a myth than reality."