Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb tar­gets new ap­proach to can­cer treat­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG­NAN zhong­nan@chi­

Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb Co is fo­cused on be­com­ing a nextgen­er­a­tion bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in China.

In par­tic­u­lar, it is spe­cial­iz­ing in im­muno-on­col­ogy, an in­no­va­tive ap­proach that treats can­cer by teach­ing the pa­tient’s own im­mune sys­tem to iden­tify and kill can­cer cells.

There were 3.37 mil­lion new can­cer cases re­ported in­China in 2011, an in­crease of 280,000 com­pared with 2010. The fiveyear sur­vival rate of can­cer pa­tients in China was about 36.9 per­cent last year, far lower than that in the United States and other de­vel­oped coun­tries, data from the 2015 China Can­cer Reg­is­tra­tion Annual Re­port showed.

Ex­ist­ing treat­ments, in­clud­ing surgery, ra­dio­ther­apy, chemo­ther­apy and even tar­geted ther­apy, are strug­gling be­cause they have lim­ited ca­pa­bil­ity to im­prove the over­all sur­vival time and qual­ity of life of pa­tients. New treat­ments are des­per­ately needed to fill these gaps.

Im­muno-on­col­ogy, which has­be­come­clin­i­cally avail­able in the past five years in theUS, is one of the new treat­ments. For some pa­tients, it has achieved great success in re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing tu­mors, with­out many of the harsh side ef­fects of other treat­ments.

Cur­rent re­search fo­cuses on un­der­stand­ing why it is al­most a mir­a­cle cure for some pa­tients, but has no ef­fect on oth­ers.

“BMS be­gan its foray into im­muno-on­col­ogy 10 years ago,” said Karl Lin­tel, pres­i­dent of BMS China. “At the time, BMS no­ticed that the only way to suc­ceed against the fierce com­pe­ti­tion be­tween multi­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giants was to en­sure the ef­fec­tive­ness of its prod­uct lines.”

In the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), health­care has be­come a fo­cus and “Healthy China” is be­ing el­e­vated to a national strat­egy.

The China Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the coun­try’s food and drug watch­dog, is­sued a doc­u­ment in Fe­bru­ary that said “clin­i­cal trial for new drugs in and out­side China can be con­ducted si­mul­ta­ne­ously af­ter ap­proval. It also en­cour­aged do­mes­tic drug clin­i­cal trial in­sti­tu­tions to par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­na­tional clin­i­cal tri­als”.

Ac­cord­ing to Lin­tel, BMS has con­ducted seven clin­i­cal tri­als for im­muno-on­col­ogy treat­ments in China and two of them have been in­cluded in in­ter­na­tional multi-cen­ter clin­i­cal trial projects.

BMS be­gan its foray into im­muno-on­col­ogy 10 years ago.”

“China cer­tainly has good growth mo­men­tum and the newly re­formed pol­icy en­vi­ron­ment is en­abling us to join more global clin­i­cal tri­als in China than be­fore,” said Ka­trin Ru­palla, BMS’ re­search and de­vel­op­ment head in China. “BMS China will fo­cus more on Chi­nese pa­tients’ needs in the can­cer ar­eas with the high­est in­ci­dence rates, in­clud­ing lung, liver and gas­tric can­cers,” she said.

Li Haiyan, a pro­fes­sor at Pek­ingUniver­sity’sHealth Sci­ence Cen­ter, said that while for­eign com­pa­nies are pro­fi­cient in get­ting their prod­ucts into China’s big cities, they must be aware that pric­ing is the key to win­ning in the county-level mar­kets.

“They should also iden­tify their key ad­van­tages to in­flu­ence China’s low-tier mar­kets, in­clud­ing sales tac­tics, scale, man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and qual­ity,” said Li.

Karl Lin­tel, pres­i­dent of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb China

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