Automation could help China’s pharmaceutical manufacturing market

Automation could help China to become a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry, competing with companies from America and Europe…


With increased pressure on laboratory’s to decrease the costs of research and development, many labs in the Western world have been turning to automation to drive down costs. China, on the other hand, in now making an effort to automate various processes in the lab.

Numerous recent events meant that many Chinese pharma companies have come under fire for various reasons, such as violating standards in making vaccines for children, falling short of prescribed standards, or because of the recent FDA valsartan recall leading to a Chinese bulk manufacturer taking a large hit.

Despite these mistakes in these high-profile cases, experts say that China is still in a good position to take a leading place in global pharmaceutical production – especially if it progresses towards large-scale automation and process improvements. 

Automated processes are designed to diminish human error risks, and improve lab performance overall. These processes include bench-top robotics, which are smaller and more agile and have smaller footprints. They aid researchers in the repeatability of their methods, which is critical for the success of any scientific laboratory. Simple, routine pipetting often takes away a large proportion of manpower, and along with this, human error. Bench-top robots eliminates the risk and also improves the yield, however are an investment. Ordinarily, the cost of the system is recovered in around 12 months.

The market in China is expected to rise from $517 billion (currently) to $1 trillion by 2020, and will create a significant opportunity for pharma companies based in China. 

Regardless of the current tariff penalties, China is still currently investing lots into research and development, and automation gives smaller labs new ways to achieve competitive parity, and to bring innovation to the market more quickly, creating a sustainable advantage over other companies.

Even for established companies, not advancing in their ways of manufacture has risks, and it has become more important in recent years.