This year, at least, will be "promising" with potential new blockbuster therapies expected to be approved in China that will come with affordable price tags, said Credit Suisse in a sector note in January.
As any delay in approval will cause declines in stock prices of the pharma companies involved, Credit Suisse advises investing in bigger names with strong near-term earnings support and new drugs or first-to-market generics in the works.
Here are some of Credit Suisse's Chinese health-care stock picks for 2018:
1. Sino Biopharm
The Hong Kong-listed company has two blockbuster drugs on its roster — anlotinib for lung cancer and tenofovir for hepatitis B — and a few blockbuster generics aiming for approval before 2021.
Credit Suisse's top pick, Sino Biopharm is already the leader in the Chinese hepatitis medicine market with 22 percent market share in 2016. It also has a complete hepatitis drug portfolio.
The company has more than 10,000 sales representatives in China, with half of them on the hepatitis team — the largest in China, according to Credit Suisse.
In 2016, the company's cancer drug franchise contributed 11 percent to the company's sales. That will increase to 19 percent by 2020 after anlotinib is launched in the first quarter of 2018, said Credit Suisse. The product is likely to be competitive versus comparable drugs from multinationals, the bank added.
2. Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine
Jiangsu Hengrui is the largest listed pharma in China. And, with industry consolidation in the cards due to government-led changes, it will be the best positioned to ride out that trend, said Credit Suisse.
That's due, the bank said, to Jiangsu Hengrui's effective drug portfolio, strong capacity in delivering products in the pipeline, its leading position in cancer treatment and a well-established sales team.
The pharmaceutical firm is set to launch three blockbuster drugs in 2018, two of which are proprietary cancer drugs. The last is a generic product for respiratory conditions.
3. CSPC Pharmaceutical
Hong Kong-listed CSPC is poised for near-term profitability and the strongest organic growth among large pharmaceutical names, the Swiss bank said.
Inclusion of an injection used in stroke and cancer treatment under China's health-care reimbursement system will help drive growth, Credit Suisse added.