By Nick DeardenA new generation of medicines is taking their cues from China, and the new medicines are far less potent than those used in the West.
The main difference is that the Chinese are more likely to be on opioid medicines, and not cold medicine, for example.
As China becomes a major market for generic drugs, the government is also setting up an industry.
China has a rapidly expanding opioid drug market.
Its pharmaceutical companies have a combined market worth about $40 billion in 2016, according to the New Drug Market Analysis Center, an arm of the National Bureau of Statistics.
That is double the US$11 billion.
The market is now worth about one-fifth of China’s gross domestic product, which is around $1.2 trillion.
“The drug market is a global industry and has become much more integrated and diversified with more Chinese companies being involved in the drug industry,” said Jonathan Rauch, senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank.
The pharmaceutical companies, which include China Pharmaceuticals Group Co Ltd, have developed a suite of products, including a generic opioid called Nicorette.
The US and Europe have taken up a similar drug, Xanax, but the Chinese use Nicorettes instead, which has a lower risk of addiction.
They have also created a brand for the drug called Zhejiang Zhongjiin.
This is a name derived from Chinese for “gold leaf”.
It was not clear how Nicoretta would be approved for use in China.
A spokeswoman for the National Drug Administration in China declined to comment.
Nicorette, which comes in 20mg, 30mg and 50mg strengths, has not been tested on humans in trials.
It has a low chance of causing respiratory depression, and some Chinese are using it to treat asthma, the New York Times reported.
“They are selling it as a low-risk medication to the Chinese,” said Michael Cavanagh, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“They want it for people who are just getting off of opioids, so they’re using Nicorettas as a substitute.”
Nicoretta is a drug that has a high potential for addiction, and it has a similar profile to OxyContin, a popular drug widely used in Canada and the US.
“Nicorettacs are sold in China under the brand name Zhejian Zhongjiain,” Cavanag said.
“So if someone goes to China and buys it, they will be thinking of the Zhejun Zhongjun, and they’re going to be thinking, ‘Wow, I need this’.”
Zhejians name is also derived from the word “zhi”, which means gold, and Zhong, which means flower.
Zhejiang, which stands for “the golden flower”, is often used to refer to Nicoretts.
“China is a great market for opioids and has a lot of the highest use of them in the world,” said Rauchard.
“We have a lot to learn about what works and what doesn’t work.”
Cai Feng, who runs the Beijing-based consulting firm R&B Insights, said China’s drug approvals were still relatively low, given the country’s low level of drug-related deaths.
But China has become a key market for the drugs.
Its overall population of 5.4 billion is just over half the size of the US and Canada combined.
The Chinese also tend to be a bit more conservative about who is buying drugs.
“This is why there are some big companies in China that are not doing very well in terms of profitability, even in China,” said Cavanah.