China Puts the Brakes on Imports of Pfizer’s Diflucan


China’s drug watchdog has suspended imports of one medication from the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, saying that the company was late in filing it’s application; the drug in question is an anti-fungal drug used in the treatment of AIDS, called Diflucan. The suspension is just one of several similar recent incidents indicative of China’s increasing scrutiny of the pharmaceutical industry, says the Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday the Chinese Food and Drug Administration said that it recently inspected a Pfizer factory in France and found that the pharmaceutical giant failed to submit a supplementary application for the AIDS drug, Diflucan, on time.

Pfizer responded in a statement on its Chinese-language website; the company said it is complying with the Chinese FDA and taking necessary steps to resolve the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pfizer also said that the reason for the suspension had nothing to do with issues of the drug’s safety or quality, but was merely an issue of proper documentation according to Chinese law.

China has recently taken measures to crack down on the pharmaceutical industry; tackling everything from pricing to corruption, reports the Wall Street Journal, and Chinese leaders have announced their intention to boost the quality and safety of the food and drugs sold to the country.

The Chinese market is increasingly important for drug companies; China’s healthcare spending is forecast to nearly triple by 2020, when it’s estimated it will be worth $1 trillion. That’s in comparison to just $357 million in 2011, according to Reuters, who spoke with the consulting firm McKinsey.

It’s unclear how much the suspension will affect Pfizer’s continued operations in China. Diflucan brought in $259 million globally in 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal. Some analysts speculate that the incident isn’t much more than a paperwork “hiccup.” One analyst at the Shanghai-based firm Kantar Health China, Simon Li, who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, said that, “It should not impact too much Pfizer’s business in China and I am sure the imports will be resumed once the procedure is complete.”