Global biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca PLC is promoting the research and development of seven medicines in China, as the company endeavors to strengthen its local R&D capabilities to lower costs for patients.
According to the company, it will take advantage of its production and logistics bases in Wuxi and Taizhou in Jiangsu province to mass produce high-quality and low-cost medicines.
"In addition to the Chinese market, we supply over 70 countries around the world, mainly developing countries. We will use our production advantages to raise production and lower costs, so that patients can benefit from more reasonable prices," said Wang Lei, CEO of AstraZeneca China.
At the China International Import Expo, the Cambridge, United Kingdom-headquartered company demonstrated roughly 30 innovative products that it had brought to China since entering the country 25 years ago. A renal anemia medication, which is being developed locally in China, was displayed at the expo. The drug is set to make its global debut in China next year.
According to Wang, AstraZeneca hopes to bring its global experience to China through the CIIE. The company hopes to integrate its experience with China's successful internet of things ecosystem, colliding with more creative sparks, to meet the country's ever-changing and upgrading medical needs and pain points, by bringing new solutions for Chinese patients, he said.
Wang said China has evolved into the company's second-largest market. As the second-largest medical consumption market in the world, China is also the company's fastest-growing market, with 12 percent year-on-year growth in 2017, he said.
Company statistics show sales revenues stood at $22.5 billion in 2017, of which $2.96 billion was from China, 13.2 percent of the total.
That makes AstraZeneca the second-largest multinational pharmaceutical company in China. To date, it has invested more than $750 million into R&D of medicines that improve people's quality of life
Having operated in China for 25 years, the company continuously adjusts its development strategy, and is beginning to place a heavier emphasis on local R&D innovation.
"In the past, we merely brought foreign drugs into China. From now on, we will develop new drugs locally in China, and bring the products not only to Chinese patients, but also patients from other developing countries. China's innovative drug imports and market access are accelerating. This shifts our emphasis onto specific medicines and anti-cancer drugs," Wang said.
For AstraZeneca, R&D localization is an important opportunity for multinational pharmaceutical companies, leading it to promote the R&D process of seven new drugs in China.
The innovative products and development models based in China can also be applied to other markets, says the company.
"The innovative business model in China will not only stay in China. After being applied to various therapeutic fields, the model can be used in other markets. In the future, governments and medical institutions in other countries will rush to embrace Chinese innovation, and that era is coming soon," Wang said.
Yang Wenya, a medical analyst with Beijing-headquartered think tank EO Intelligence, said: "For medical companies, local innovation in developing new medicines takes advantage of the local production advantages to cut costs and raise efficiency, throughout the process of R&D, production and transportation. In this way, both medical companies and patients benefit. This is an inevitable trend of the international division of labor."
She said China's large patient pool offers abundant resources for clinical research and data is easy to access.
"Producing medicine locally saves the cost of transporting medicines. Also, the two major production logistics bases in Wuxi and Taizhou have obvious agglomeration and scale effects, which can guarantee the quality and quantity of drugs," Yang said.