DRUG DEMAND IN CHINA LIKELY TO REACH $46 BILLION BY 2010

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Demand for pharmaceuticals in China is likely to increase by an annual 13.6 percent to $46 billion by 2010, according to a study conducted by the Freedonia Group, a U.S.-based research firm. Western proprietary drugs with cardiovascular, neurological, cancer and antiviral indications, reports the study, will exhibit the strongest growth, as will generics — particularly antihistamines, antipsychotics and cholesterol-reducing medications.

Western pharmaceuticals, adds the study, will generate close to $31 billion by 2010, comprising approximately two-thirds of the total drug market. Over the counter imports, as well, will increasingly penetrate the market, fueled by the Chinese government's push to make basic medicines available to the country's large rural population.

In 2005, Western pharmaceutical sales in China were estimated at $25 billion — already an 8.5 percent increase from the previous year.