Demand for Ciprofloxacin Grows Vigorously
COLUMN:PHARMACEUTICALS AND BIOCHEMICALS
Demand for Ciprofloxacin Grows Vigorously
In 2010, China's export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient continues to grow vigorously. Against the background of the international economic crisis, this clearly shows the invariable nature of demand for ciprofloxacin active ingredient.
In the first quarter of 2010, China exported 314 tons of ciprofloxacin active ingredient, up nearly 15% year on year and 28% quarter on quarter; the export value amounted to US$7.2 million, up nearly 15% year on year and 27% quarter on quarter; and the average export price was US$22.93 per kilogram, slightly down 0.3% over the fourth quarter of 2009.
Due to the pressure of environmental protection, in 2008 China's output and export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient decreased, resulting in a high year-on-year growth in its export in 2009. In 2009, China exported 1 080 tons of ciprofloxacin active ingredient, up 70.08% over the previous year; and the export value amounted to US$24.92 million, up 48.78% year on year.
The process of making ciprofloxacin active ingredient is very complicated, requiring some toxic and hazardous chemical raw materials while discharging heavy pollution, thus requiring substantial technology to protect the environment. In the 1990s, the ciprofloxacin market was very profitable, so dozens of Chinese manufacturers rushed into this industry. Most of China's ciprofloxacin manufacturers are small and medium-scale enterprises. They pay inadequate attention to environmental protection and invest little in treating wastes. Some even discharge wastes without treatment. In recent years, the Chinese government and the public have increased the emphasis on environmental protection. The environmental pollution issue has created great pressure on China's ciprofloxacin active ingredient manufacturers.
In 2008, the Chinese government put forward even more stringent requirements on environmental protection than before. Some ciprofloxacin active ingredient producers had to cease production, some cut production, and some invested in building waste treatment facilities. This led to a sharp decrease in China's output of ciprofloxacin active ingredient in 2008, falling by nearly half compared to 2007. In 2008, China exported only 634.9 tons of ciprofloxacin active ingredient, down 53.55% compared with the 1 377 tons in 2007. Since 2009, China's output and export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient rebounded and grew faster compared to the lower digits of 2008.
In addition, the ciprofloxacin active ingredient market is also improving these days. The rising price of ciprofloxacin active ingredient has motivated many manufacturers to increase their operating rates. Since 2010, China's output and export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient have increased greatly.
Currently, in the international market, China and India are major producers and suppliers of ciprofloxacin active ingredient, and their output and export account for a big share of the world's total. In recent years, because made-in-China ciprofloxacin active ingredient is sold at lower prices, it has become increasingly competitive in the international market. Some Indian pharmaceutical companies have to buy ciprofloxacin active ingredient from China and then process it into formulations and sell them to the international market. China's ciprofloxacin active ingredient occupies a bigger and bigger market share in the international market, actually. In 2008, China's output and export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient dropped sharply. This resulted in a short supply of ciprofloxacin active ingredient in the global market and a rise in its prices. In 2009, China's average export price of ciprofloxacin active ingredient was US$23.08 per kilogram.
Over the past decade, scientists and researchers have developed new anti-infective drugs such as fluoroquinolones, macrolides and cephalosporins. This has had a significant impact on the sales of ciprofloxacin, so its market share has declined slightly. However, in recent years, some new anti-infective drugs were found to have worrisome side effects, and some have not turned out to be as effective clinically as their trial reports promised, and some are very expensive. As an old antimicrobial drug with a history of nearly 30 years, ciprofloxacin has a definite medical effect, a broad antimicrobial spectrum, many varieties of formulations and fewer side effects, so many countries and regions have listed it as one of their essential drugs. The market demand for ciprofloxacin has resumed growth.
Nearly four billion people live in Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America and Africa. In recent years, the governments in these regions have paid more and more attention to the healthcare of their nationals. The demand for effective, affordable and clinically necessary anti-infective drugs like ciprofloxacin will grow steadily in these countries in the future. At present, China's export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient to these regions accounted for about 80% of China's total ciprofloxacin active ingredient output. This ratio will continue to grow in the future.
Because of environmental pollution, more and more pharmaceutical companies in developed countries have given up the production of ciprofloxacin active ingredient but bought it from China and India. Some international pharmaceutical companies have built joint ventures in China to produce ciprofloxacin active ingredient there. For example, Spanish based Quimica Sintetica was originally one of the world's major ciprofloxacin active ingredient manufacturers. But a few years ago, this company gave up the production of ciprofloxacin active ingredient. In recent years, it purchases a large amount of ciprofloxacin active ingredient from China every year.
Presently China is home to over 10 ciprofloxacin active ingredient manufacturers, mainly located in Zhejiang province. China's major ciprofloxacin active ingredient producers and exporters are Zhejiang Jingxin Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, Zhejiang Guobang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, Zhejiang Xinhua Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Zhejiang Huayi Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (a joint venture of Spain based ESTEVE QUIMICA). Their combined output and export of ciprofloxacin active ingredient both account for 70% - 80% of China's total. In recent years, although China's export volume and value of ciprofloxacin active ingredient have grown greatly, its export prices have constantly dropped. In 2008, China's average export price of ciprofloxacin active ingredient was US$26.38 per kilogram. In 2009, it was US$23.08 per kilogram, down 12.50% year on year. In the first quarter of 2010, it was US$22.92 per kilogram, slightly down 0.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2009.