Quintiles CEO: China could replace U.S. as biotech leader

Quintiles CEO Dennis Gillings--who's made his living by predicting future trends in drug development--believes that China could eventually unseat the U.S. as the world leader in biotech R&D. Concerns about drug costs combined with increasingly high safety hurdles are suffocating innovation, causing the R&D process to become too lengthy and costly. "As you get to 2050 the country that has cracked molecular biology the most might more easily be the leading country than the one that can fire missiles," says Gillings, as quoted by Forbes.

As the world's leader in drug production, the FDA has set drug approval standards for decades. European outfits like GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have shifted a significant portion of their operations to the U.S. to tap into that market. But as the market becomes more restricted, drugmakers have turned their eyes to emerging markets for continued growth. Down the line, that could put Chinese regulators in the position to set regulatory standards for drug development, possibly displacing the FDA from its role as the world's leading regulator.

China is making huge investments in basic research, something Gillings believes the U.S. should also pursue. For the country to remain dominant, he suggests a "better recognition of the innovative side of the industry. This needs to be looked at carefully and not just subsumed under the health care debate."

- read the Forbes article for more