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Sanofi eyes on China's OTC market

By Wang Fangqing     Oct 26, 2009 in Business
Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis, the largest pharmaceutical company in Europe, signed a letter of intent over the weekend with Hangzhou-based Minsheng Pharmaceutical Group to set up a joint venture that will focus on producing vitamin and mineral supplements.
The move was triggered by China's fast growing over-the-counter (OTC) medicine market, whose scale hit 70 billion yuan ($10 billion USD) in 2008, with vitamin and mineral products taking the biggest share, reported Xinhua.
Minsheng is the top Chinese supplier in the market thanks to its 21-Super Vita multivitamin-multimineral tablets, priced at 19 yuan ($2.7 USD) per bottle (60 tablets). It has been the best-selling Chinese brand vitamin pill for years.
In the past decade, however, the company has been facing the growing pressure from foreign counterparts, such as Amway's Nutrilite, Wyeth's Centrum and Theragran Gold by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Amway spent 619 million yuan ($91 million USD) on advertising for Nutrilite in 2008, according to the media research company Nielsen.
Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi-Aventis' senior vice president for pharmaceutical operations in Asia/Pacific and Japan, predicted China would become the world's second largest OTC market in 2010.
The value of China's OTC market is expected to reach $21.4 billion USD in 2012 from $7.45 billion USD in 2007, according to the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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