Big Pharma Out To "Prescribe" Chinese Market

China has more than 1.3 billion people and has become the 9th largest drug market in the world--with $9.5 billion in annual sales. So--it should come as no surprise that big pharma is furiously trying to grab a piece of that market--which by some estimates could be wroth $25 billion in the next three years.

That's provided, of course that U.S. drugmakers can overcome the country's enormous regulatory hurdles--and reputation for corruption.

Tara Croft is Senior Writer with The Deal. She said on "Power Lunch" that even though many U.S. drugmakers already have a presence in China--they're certainly looking to expand. But she says they must move slowly.

There are some major hurdles according to Croft. She says there are much higher regulations in China than in the U.S. And she says the issue of corruption looms large. China--according to Croft does not police itself all that well. Croft cites drug companies like Pfizer and Novartis who are taking matters into their own hands--by alerting Chinese officials when they need to about fraudulent partners and deals for distribution. Novartis says it sees its China sales reaching $25 billion by 2010.

Croft finished up by saying the counterfeiting of drugs in China--is a really big problem--with some $35 billion in counterfeit drugs sold each year.