Bayer in China

Bayer in China: How the Pharma giant gained the strong approval of Chinese consumers

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Overview of Bayer and Bayer China

Bayer AG is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and agriculture. Bayer, headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, is one of the most famous companies among the world’s top 500 enterprises. In 2019, the total number of Bayer’s employees was 103,824 and the annual sales were 43.5 billion euros. Bayer’s products cover high polymer material, medical and health products, chemical industry products, and agricultural products. Bayer puts a lot of emphasis on its research and development. Its capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros in 2019.

Bayer’s current state in China

Bayer entered the Chinese market in 1982. Bayer has operated its business in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China. Currently, China has become one of the largest markets for Bayer globally and an important driver for the growth of Bayer’s business. In 2019, Bayer’s sales in Greater China reached 3.724 billion euros. As of December 2019, Bayer has more than 9,000 employees in Greater China.

Bayer is deeply rooted in the Chinese market

China’s pharmaceutical industry

Source: Quanjing, China’s pharmaceutical industry

The Chinese market is a crucial driver of Bayer’s growth. Bayer complies with the policy and regulations of China, exploring its business in line with specific rules in China. Two examples that Bayer China firmly supports China’s regulations are as follows.

Bayer cuts price largely to win contracts with the Chinese government

In 2018, China’s government launched the centralized procurement program, in order to lower drug prices. A lot of drug companies are invited to place bids after the number of different kinds of drugs that will be needed in the public hospitals are determined by China’s health care security authorities. Under this centralized procurement program, the drug company which offers the lowest price will become the supplier of a certain drug. The Chinese government aims to reshuffle China’s pharmaceutical industry through the price war, and both foreign and domestic players have to come up with survival strategies to secure the market.

According to Chinese media, in January 2020, 77 pharmaceutical companies won contracts with the government by cutting drugs’ prices by 53% on average. Among them, Bayer made a big offer in the bidding. For example, it cut the price of its off-patent acarbose for diabetes (which affects a large part of the Chinese population) by almost 90%, and the new price is 78.5% lower than the price ceiling set by the Chinese government in December 2019.

By adopting an ultra-low-price strategy in the price war, Bayer hopes to expand its market share of some drugs like acarbose. In this way, it can secure its Chinese market and earn more profits in the future. For Bayer, the Chinese market is so important that it worth taking the large price cut to support the price war launched by the government.

Bayer fired an employee for breaking home quarantine rule during COVID-19

Bayer fired an Australian Chinese employee for breaking the coronavirus quarantine rule in China. In March 2020, a video of the woman gbreaking the home quarantine policy to go on a run went viral on the Chinese social network and drew widespread criticism from the public.

Bayer’s response reflects that it firmly follows laws and regulations in China, and supports the coronavirus rules of the Chinese government. This decision has been widely applauded by Chinese netizens and the company is considered as responsible and compliant. Hence, Bayer China has built a positive image through this crisis. 

Boosting innovation and advance digitalization

In 2016, China announced the Healthy China 2030 Blueprint. Currently, China is speeding up the initiative and improving patients’ access to medicines by increasing their affordability. “With the mission of helping China achieve health goals, Bayer China will make unremitting efforts to bring innovations faster to Chinese patients and provide more complete medical services.” Jiang Wei, executive vice president and managing director of Bayer China, said.

Bayer strengthened R&D and innovation

Under the Healthy China 2030 plan, China has promulgated policies from various aspects to increase support for the development of innovative drugs. Many pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer, are seizing opportunities and making full use of policy support to accelerate the approval of various new drugs in China.

Since 2017, Bayer has brought 14 innovative drugs to China. As an important part of the “China Innovation Strategy”, Bayer is continuously accelerating the introduction of more innovative products into China through the China R&D Center. The China R&D center, established by Bayer Health Consumer in Qidong, Jiangsu, is also actively carrying out category innovation, and enhancing the technical support and protection level of existing listed products.

At the same time, Bayer establishes long-term strategic cooperation with China’s top scientific research institutes including Tsinghua University and Peking University and strives to apply more cooperation results to the in clinical practice. Also, Bayer China is exploring cooperation opportunities with Chinese pharmaceutical companies and biological start-ups, leveraging the complementary advantages of both parties to fully develop innovative results. For example, Bayer and CStone Pharmaceuticals collaborate to evaluate D-L1 monoclonal antibody CS1001in combination with regorafenib as a treatment for multiple cancers.

Bayer China embraces digital transformation

Bayer cooperates with VeChain

Source: creamandpartners.com, Bayer cooperates with VeChain

Bayer has seen great potential to foster digitalization in China’s pharmaceutical industry, and has sped up its digitalization.

In 2017, Bayer teaeds up with Alibaba Health (AliHealth) to provide Chinese patients with healthcare services ‘at their fingertips’. At the same time, Bayer China can follow health trends of Chinese people and better satisfy their self-care demands by leveraging the big data advantages of the Alibaba platform.

Bayer re-started the ‘Bayer G4A China’ program in 2019, a global digital health startup partnership program to select Chinese startups that have digital potential. In 2019, Bayer China forms a co-operation agreement with Yaoshibang, a domestic online B2B pharma platform, to offer a new digitized medicine and health services solution in China. During this collaboration, the parties will exploit their advantages in the fields of medicine, health, and the internet.

In 2020, Bayer announced its partnership with VeChain, a pioneering public blockchain startup, to co-establish CSecure, a blockchain-based traceability platform for drugs. This new blockchain-powered solution will allow Bayer to track clinical drugs across the supply chain digitally.

Bayer considers digitalization as its vital strategy in China’s pharmaceutical industry. Digital transformation will enable Bayer to provide patients with new drugs and personalized treatment faster, improve the efficiency of healthcare service, and ultimately better serve patients. 

Bayer’s China Vision & Mission

Bayer’s logo

Source: Bayer China’s Weibo, Bayer’s logo

With its strong marketing strategies, crisis management, and cooperation with the government, Bayer China devotes itself to provide better products and services for Chinese in the areas of health and nutrition. Bayer is a key player in helping China achieve the Healthy China 2030 plan, which makes the future outlook for the pharmaceutical brand’s development in China very promising.


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