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Zhong Huijian

CEO, Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Co.

When Hansoh Pharmaceutical went public in Hong Kong in the middle of last year, CEO Zhong Huijian became an instant billionaire several times over.

Along with her husband, Sun Piaoyang, who leads a separate pharma company, Zhong is now part of what is officially China’s wealthiest couple.

For Zhong, a former chemistry teacher, the path to riches was long. She founded Hansoh back in 1995, becoming CEO in 2001. In the two decades before listing, she developed the company’s capabilities, initially in cancer treatments and then including a broader portfolio involving treatments for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.

Hansoh now has more than 30 generic drugs on the China market. The company has benefited from the trillion-dollar healthcare spend in the country, and in particular from recently introduced government policies around the procurement of generics, which on price alone favors domestic players over global pharma firms.

Last year, Hansoh won out over foreign competitors to receive public-hospital contracts for two generic products — mental-disorder-therapy olanzapine and leukaemia drug imatinib. The contracts were across 11 Chinese cities, which together represent roughly one third of the Chinese drug market.