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Asia's Complex Compliance Landscape

July 8, 2019, Pharmaceutical Executive

Eric Carlson spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about the compliance challenges prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

On the emergence of general compliance in the region, Mr. Carlson says, “When I first moved to Beijing in 2008, there were only a couple of dozen people who had compliance on their business card. It just wasn’t a job in China then. Ten years later, there are several thousand people working in compliance.” There is, however, the issue of “compliance maturity,” which still leaves the problem of “massive demand and very limited supply in the region,” he says. In China, he explains, nearly all of the compliance professionals “have emerged in the last seven years or so.” While multinationals “are desperate for seasoned compliance officers, there are very few people with more than six or seven years’ experience, and almost no one with 10–15 years’ experience.”

 

Speaking on China’s culture around compliance, he notes there has “never been much of a problem with people speaking up, but this depends on the individual company, of course. [T]he good companies are doing what you expect them to be doing: establishing hotlines in local languages and actually responding to and investigating information received.”

 

Comparing small and large companies, he says the biggest multinationals “are typically quite robust when it comes to compliance in the region.” There has been a lot more people on the ground, as well as sophisticated electronic systems for tracking and monitoring. In China, he explains, “There’s a huge amount of visibility across a company’s different functions, a huge amount of awareness of what’s going on, and an ability to see real-time problems.” While big companies still have problems, “they tend to be more modest and more isolated; you typically don’t, for example, have whole sales teams or entire regions doing what they’re not supposed to be doing.”

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