An employee works at a Yiling Pharmaceutical production facility in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province. (Photo: Xinhua/Mou Yu)
Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, a high-tech enterprise, is looking to further expand its presence in overseas markets, especially those involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, with innovative approaches.
Founded in June 1992 by Wu Yiling, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the company's product portfolio includes Chinese patent medicine, chemical drugs, pharmaceutical preparations and health products.
"Scientific and technological innovation has been the backbone of our strategy, and with traditional Chinese medicine gaining more popularity, we are ramping up our efforts to sell Chinese patent medicines to overseas markets, especially those related to the BRI," said Wu Xiangjun, chief executive officer of the company.
Led by Wu Yiling, members of the company's research and development team are experts and doctors from home and abroad, and most of the Chinese experts have overseas research experience.
The company has conducted dozens of national-level research projects, invented more than 10 patented drugs, and holds more than 350 patents. It has also won five national-level scientific and technological awards, Wu said.
Wu attributed the success to the higher outlay for research and development. In 2017, its R&D investment was 256 million yuan ($38.2 million), taking up 6.29 percent of its annual revenue, while in the first half of 2018, the investment rose to about 146 million yuan, up 47 percent year-on-year.
The company has also created a high-level R&D platform for compound Chinese medicines, multicomponent Chinese medicines, and monomer Chinese medicines, and formed alliances with a slew of established medical institutes and universities for TCM research.
Over the years, many of its innovative Chinese patent medicines have made inroads into foreign markets with increasing popularity, through a distinctive academics-endorsed marketing model, in which the effect and safety of the TCM medicines are proved through scientific research and evidence-based clinical outcomes.
Sales of its major Chinese patent medicines, for instance, those for coronary diseases, cerebral infarction, arrhythmia, and chronic heart failure, totaled 10 million yuan last year in overseas markets such as South Korea, Vietnam, Canada and Russia, increasing 30 percent year-on-year, according to Wu.
Zhao Shaohua, deputy CEO of the company, who supervises overseas business, said the BRI has brought about great opportunities for Yiling Pharmaceutical.
"While holding Chinese patent medicines at the core position of overseas business expansion, we are also strengthening R&D of chemical medicines and preparations for exports," Zhao said.
According to Zhao, the company has filed nine new generic drug applications - known as abbreviated new drug applications or ANDAs - to the US Food and Drug Administration, and five have been approved.
The market size of approved generics is huge, making it less difficult to tap the US market, he added.
Within two years, the company will get more ANDAs through its wholly owned subsidiary Wanzhou International, covering treatments for many common medical conditions such as tumors, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and arthritis, which will further boost the company's overseas business.
The company plans to export high-quality generics to the US, as well as expand its business in the European market once it gets more ANDAs approved in the US.
"We have established our international market sales network," Zhao said.
"The network is a foundation for the company to export ANDA products and tap international pharmaceutical market potential."
The company, one of largest pharmaceutical exporters in China, has established local offices in the US and UK for product registration and marketing, and its pharmaceutical preparations have achieved remarkable success in developed markets such as the US, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Moreover, five of its preparation products account for 80 percent of each title's market in New Zealand, two titles take up more than 60 percent of the UK market, and two titles have more than 40 percent of the markets in Canada and Germany, according to Zhao.