Move opens flood­gates for in­no­va­tive ther­a­pies to en­ter coun­try

New Straits Times - - Busi­ness -

BEI­JING as the gov­ern­ment at­tempts to drive down drug prices in its pub­lic health in­sur­ance sys­tem, which pro­vides ba­sic cov­er­age for more than 95 per cent of its 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple.

“Most multi­na­tional firms are op­ti­mistic about get­ting ap­proval for their drugs, but fund­ing is still an is­sue,” said John Wong, chair­man of Greater China at Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group.

For­eign drug­mak­ers have his­tor­i­cally had to wait sev­eral years to bring treat­ments al­ready ap­proved in other coun­tries into China. In re­cent years, many Chi­nese pa­tients have trav­elled abroad to buy can­cer ther­a­pies, and some even pur­chase raw ingredients on­line when ther­a­pies aren’t avail­able at home.

The num­ber of re­view­ers at China’s Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (CFDA) who scru­ti­nise drug ap­pli­ca­tions rose to 600 at the end of last year from 120 in 2015, and the vol­ume of back­logged ap­pli­ca­tions was cut by two-thirds, said Bi Jingquan, min­is­ter of the CFDA, last month.

As­traZeneca’s Ta­grisso, was among the first to ben­e­fit from the re­forms. Bloomberg

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