China’s rise as a biotechnology pharmaceutical powerhouse

- Apr 11,2017 -

According to the US “Wall Street Journal” reported on April 11, China is emerging as a major producer of biotech drugs, which has attracted the attention of some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. In the past two years, pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly and Merck have signed with Chinese companies. A multi-million dollar agreement to sell biotech drugs developed in China overseas.
A new anti-cancer drug authorized by Eli Lilly and Company was developed by a startup company located in the suburbs of Shanghai for six years. The drug is derived from the ovary cells of Chinese hamsters. Lilly is currently planning to test this new drug on American patients.
Competitor Merck plans to test another anticancer drug in the US this year, which was developed by another startup that is close to Hong Kong.
The report said that these situations are not isolated. China has long been a supplier of cheap bulk drugs and generics to the world, and is now emerging as a major producer of important new drugs such as biotech drugs. According to the National Institutes of Health data, China is currently ranked second in the number of clinical trials for biotherapeutics, second only to the United States; biopharmaceuticals are derived from biological substances such as animal cells or bacteria.
This situation has attracted the attention of some big pharmaceutical companies around the world.
Merck sent company executives to visit a large number of Chinese startups and set up a dedicated innovation center in Shanghai in 2015. Johnson & Johnson also established a similar center in Shanghai in 2014 to capture China’s technological breakthroughs. In the past two years, Lilly, Merck, Tesaro Inc. (TSRO) and Incyte Co. (INCY) have signed multi-million dollar agreements with Chinese companies to sell biotech drugs developed in China overseas.
Will China change overnight? Sanofi, head of Sanofi’s emerging markets, thinks it will not. But he also said that once the direction is confirmed, the situation will obviously change. He pointed out that China is investing resources to improve product quality.
Biopharmaceuticals differ from chemical drugs and have revolutionized the treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Biopharmaceuticals have been developed by Western drug manufacturers in their own laboratories for decades, and they are profitable. According to consulting firm Frost-Sullivan, eight of the top 10 best-selling drugs in the world are biopharmaceuticals. But the industry organization, the American Drug Research Institute and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, said that the cost of research and development for each biopharmaceutical is more than $1 billion, and it may take more than a decade to get listed.
Forced by a series of costly failures and the pressure of patent-protected biopharmaceuticals, global pharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning to other regions to find new breakthroughs.
According to the report, as part of the reform of the local pharmaceutical industry, the Chinese government has invested heavily in domestic pharmaceutical manufacturers and has taken incentives to establish a project to attract Chinese scientists working overseas to return home, and to invest billions of dollars in biotechnology. The science and technology parks of start-ups have also accelerated the trial and approval of newly developed biotech drugs.
According to the report, most Chinese start-ups start by replicating or improving existing biotech drugs, but some of them are entering more risky business areas and developing biological agents that have not yet been tested by humans.
Cinda Biopharmaceutical (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., a startup based in Shanghai, reached the largest deal in China in 2015, when Lilly paid $56 million to jointly develop three cancers. The drugs, two of which are the results of the research and development of Cinda Biopharma. If the above drugs meet the standards, Cinda Biopharma is expected to earn more than $1.4 billion over the next decade.
According to the report, in a small laboratory of Cinda Biopharma located in the Suzhou Industrial Park, dozens of cylindrical glassware called bioreactors hold cells from Chinese hamsters, which are commonly used worldwide. In medical research. According to a part of the Eli Lilly Company agreement, the above drugs are used to prevent a gene that interferes with the body’s ability to fight cancer.
Cinda Biopharma has begun testing the drug in patients in China, and Lilly is preparing to apply for its own clinical trial in the United States. Lilly said that once the drug is approved, it is planned to be sold in a global market outside China. In China, the company holds a joint marketing right with Cinda Biopharma.
According to ChinaBio’s data, the prosperity of China’s biotechnology industry has attracted the participation of venture capital, pushing the investment in China’s life sciences to a record $5.3 billion last year, an increase of nearly 10 times from five years ago.
In 2008, Eli Lilly and Company established a venture capital investment fund to invest in Asia. Since then, the fund’s US$500 million investment has almost all invested in Chinese biotech startups.
The partner of the fund said that China was not even within the scope of biotechnology 10 years ago, but it has become a force that cannot be ignored.

 
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