Healthy outlook for growing sector

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2008, 12:00am

The mainland's thriving economy, a key driver of growth in domestic consumption, continues to help create a demand for better health-care products and services, according to a leading company in the biomedical sector.

Henry Chien Hoe Yong, Mingyuan Medicare Development's chief executive, said sophistication and affluence among a growing proportion of the population was helping to drive consumer choice in medical services.

'[Mainlanders] are not only buying cars and houses, they are also looking for better health-care services,' said Mr Chien, whose mainland-based biomedical business saw sales of its protein chips, used for cancer screening, increase by almost 45 per cent over the previous year.

Under its motto, 'Care for Health, Passion for Life', Mingyuan focuses on developing approved biomedical products and services in the mainland for early detection and prevention of diseases, including cancer. The most recent net profit attributed to shareholders amounted to HK$125.3 million compared to HK$73.6 million the previous year.

Mingyuan produces and distributes a range of health-care products which are approved by the mainland's State Food and Drug Administration. These products included C-12 protein chips, capable of detecting tumour markers while simultaneously assisting in the early detection of various types of cancers. The company also produces diagnostic products for the early detection and treatment of respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases.

'Our products also meet government health-care approval for overseas sales,' Mr Chien said.

Advantages of C-12 technology include non-invasive screening. Mingyuan also has products in the pipeline for the detection of tuberculosis. It also plans to develop and distribute a range of early detection products for various other life-threatening illnesses over the next five years.

The company distributes its C-12 products to 45 health centres managed by major insurance companies and more than 700 mainland hospitals. It has sold about six million protein chips for cancer screening.

In a move to further strengthen its distribution network, Mingyuan has entered into an agreement with China Life Insurance, the mainland's largest insurance company, to provide C-12 diagnostic chips for China Life's Cancer Care Insurance Policy, launched in Shanghai. Last year, it sold more than 300,000 C-12 chips to the company. Mr Chien said through leveraging on the nationwide distribution network of China Life Insurance, Mingyuan hoped to significantly increase its own distribution capabilities.

In future, Mingyuan plans to expand its distribution network to about 1,000 hospitals and health centres in the mainland. Other governments have also approved Mingyuan products. The company also markets its products in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and expects to enter the Singapore market in the near future.

Under its health-care division, Mingyuan also manages the Shanghai Woman and Child Healthcare Hospital, and it holds a 51per cent equity in Shanghai Weiyi Hospital Investment and Management Company.

Mingyuan has prospered in a new environment brought about by a 2002 central government plan to reform health-care services.

Goals include initiatives to develop non-government-owned medical institutions, allow privately owned companies to produce propriety products and provide better training to the mainland's two million doctors, one million nurses, and thousands of clinicians and medical management personnel.

The move by the central government was touted as a way to create a more competitive environment and speed up medical reform.

However, while the opportunities to invest in the mainland's expanding health-care sector appear to be promising, Mingyuan also realises there are challenges ahead.

For example, as a pioneer in the commercialisation and distribution of new diagnostic technologies, the company appreciates the need to comprehensively understand the existing medical industry, regulations and operation mechanism.

To overcome these challenges the company liaises closely with health-care institutions, clinical laboratory testing centres and regulatory bodies.

Mingyuan has also embarked on several initiatives, including in-house research on different applications of protein chips based on existing protein technology.