China backs its booming biopharma industry with big subsidies

China is in the middle of one of its 5-year economic plans, and it's got big plans for biopharma. China Daily reports that the sales revenue for the industry came close to $29 billion last year, up a whopping 18%. And the government is feeding about a half billion dollars in annual government support to keep the growth going at the same torrid pace.

China's government, which turned to biopharma as one of 7 key pillars in its plan for fast economic growth, has focused on supporting vaccine development, diagnostics and protein-related drug discovery projects. And China Daily reports that there are more than 400 biomedicine producers in the country now.

China's growing economy, boasting a swelling group of middle class consumers, has drawn the close attention of the world's pharma industry. A number of major companies like Sanofi ($SNY), Merck ($MRK) and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) have established big R&D operations in the country, anxious to tap the emerging market. And there's been a steadily growing interest in developing new compounds in China as many of the country's best educated scientists return home to start their own companies--often with government support. 

- here's the story from China Daily