Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb: a trusted and com­mit­ted re­form and in­no­va­tion part­ner in China

Shanghai Daily - - LEADING EDGE -

Global bio­pharma leader Bris­tolMy­ers Squibb, whose jour­ney in China kicked off with the coun­try’s re­form and openingup wave, has been de­vot­ing it­self in re­mark­able in­no­va­tion and un­weav­ing ef­forts to ad­dress un­met med­i­cal needs and ful­fil the Healthy China blue­print.

“Health is an im­por­tant foun­da­tion for a bet­ter life. A healthy fu­ture is the com­mon hope of all Chi­nese peo­ple,” Shirley Zhao, general man­ager and pres­i­dent of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb Chi­nese Main­land and Hong Kong, told Shang­hai Daily dur­ing an in­ter­view.

Bond with China

The de­but of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb China was made in 1982 with the es­tab­lish­ment of Sino-Amer­i­can Shang­hai Squibb Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals Ltd — a bench­mark as it was the first Sino-Amer­i­can phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal joint ven­ture in China.

That took place four years after China im­ple­mented its pol­icy of re­form and open­ing-up to the out­side world, which, for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, meant the start of a jour­ney in the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try to ac­com­plish its mis­sion of dis­cov­er­ing, de­vel­op­ing and de­liv­er­ing in­no­va­tive medicines that help pa­tients pre­vail over se­ri­ous dis­eases.

As a global bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb is a rec­og­nized leader in key dis­ease ar­eas, in­clud­ing hep­ati­tis, cancer and im­muno-on­col­ogy. As a par­tic­i­pant for the foun­da­tion of China’s mod­ern phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb has helped much to im­prove pa­tients’ life with many “firsts” over the decades, in­clud­ing bring­ing the first im­muno-on­col­ogy (I-O) ther­apy into China re­cently.

Shang­hai is of great strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance for the de­vel­op­ment of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb in China. More than 30 years ago, it started the first step of ex­plo­ration in Shang­hai by es­tab­lish­ing the first Sino-Amer­i­can phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany after China’s re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy was im­ple­mented.

“There have been ur­gent clin­i­cal needs in China. With the mis­sion of help­ing pa­tients pre­vail over se­ri­ous dis­eases, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, cen­tered in Shang­hai, has been com­mit­ted to China mar­ket through lead­ing sci­en­tific de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tive port­fo­lio,” Zhao said.

Pi­o­neer of the in­dus­try

In 2014, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb China pi­o­neered the in­dus­try to trans­form into a di­ver­si­fied spe­cialty bio­pharma com­pany, mainly fo­cus­ing on the most ur­gent clin­i­cal needs across dif­fer­ent ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas, in­clud­ing on­col­ogy, im­muno-on­col­ogy and hep­ati­tis. It spurred trans­for­ma­tive changes and re­lent­less in­no­va­tion for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb it­self and lead­ing in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment.

Now, China has be­come one of Bris­tolMy­ers Squibb’s global cen­ters of re­search and de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing, com­mer­cial and in­no­va­tion. When Chi­nese govern­ment was ex­pand­ing in­vest­ment and launch­ing a se­ries of rel­e­vant poli­cies to im­prove peo­ple’s health and liv­ing stan­dards, the process it­self pro­vided broader de­vel­op­ment prospects for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal en­ter­prises.

“China’s re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy has been in force for 40 years. We see more op­por­tu­ni­ties in the coun­try’s health care in­dus­try than chal­lenges as the im­prove­ment of health and med­i­cal ser­vices has been pro­moted as a na­tional de­vel­op­ment strat­egy,” Zhao said.

Es­pe­cially in re­cent years, re­mark­able achieve­ments have been made in the re­view and ap­proval process of in­no­va­tive medicines, which is one of the most im­por­tant ac­com­plish­ments of the coun­try’s med­i­cal re­form. The con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment of the ecosys­tem for in­no­va­tions has laid a solid foun­da­tion for the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try in China.

As a fore­run­ner that has al­ways been at the fore­front of in­no­va­tions, Bris­tolMy­ers Squibb is the first bio­pharma com­pany ini­ti­at­ing im­muno-on­col­ogy (I-O) clin­i­cal tri­als in China, which were also the largest clin­i­cal trial pro­grams with I-O ther­a­pies in lung cancer in China by now. Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb is also the first com­pany that brought im­muno-on­col­ogy (I-O) ther­apy into China. Op­divo, the first PD-1 in­hibitor to demon­strate sur­vival ben­e­fit in China pa­tients, was ap­proved in China in June of 2018, start­ing a new era of cancer treat­ment in China.

“Shang­hai has cre­ated an open and com­pat­i­ble busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for multi­na­tional en­ter­prises in China. We have wit­nessed the city’s ex­plo­ration spirit and in­no­va­tive prac­tices dur­ing the en­su­ing 40 years. We have al­ways been at the fore­front of the coun­try’s re­form and open­ing-up and in­no­va­tion de­vel­op­ment by ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment of Shang­hai,” Zhao said.

Health com­mit­ment

China has ex­pe­ri­enced rapid eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment fol­low­ing 40 years of re­form and open­ing-up. The prin­ci­pal so­cial con­tra­dic­tion, which was the con­tra­dic­tion be­tween ever-grow­ing ma­te­rial needs of peo­ple and low pro­duc­tiv­ity, has changed into the con­tra­dic­tion be­tween peo­ple’s ever-grow­ing needs for a bet­ter life and un­bal­anced and in­ad­e­quate de­vel­op­ment.

In or­der to deal with this con­tra­dic­tion, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, while stay­ing true to its mis­sion, has strived to ful­fill its cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties while de­vel­op­ing its bio­pharma ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

For years, BMS has been ac­tively in­volved in nu­mer­ous phil­an­thropic projects, with fo­cuses on nar­row­ing health dis­par­i­ties, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and donations for var­i­ous dis­eases.

Since 2002, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb Foun­da­tion has been de­vel­op­ing a se­ries of “De­liv­er­ing Hope” pro­grams to sup­port hep­ati­tis pa­tients in China, cov­er­ing 28 prov­inces in China’s main­land with 27 projects. These pro­grams build a sus­tain­able model from an in­te­grated and com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to em­power pa­tients and com­mu­ni­ties with knowl­edge and sup­port­ive ser­vices in the pre­ven­tion and con­trol of the dis­ease, which have ben­e­fited over 8 mil­lion peo­ple in China so far.

In the mean­time, lung cancer is one of the ma­jor pub­lic health is­sues in China. The “Healthy China 2030” Ini­tia­tive states that by 2030, the over­all cancer 5-year sur­vival rate will have in­creased by 15 per­cent. There­fore, im­prov­ing the treat­ment ef­fi­cacy and the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of in­no­va­tive drugs are the goals of all stake­hold­ers. As the first com­pany to con­duct im­muno-on­col­ogy (I-O) clin­i­cal trial in China, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb has over 20 clin­i­cal re­search projects that have been or are be­ing con­ducted on I-O, most of which are Phase III clin­i­cal stud­ies, cov­er­ing high in­ci­dence can­cers like lung cancer, liver cancer and gas­tric cancer among oth­ers, with the goal to bring in­no­va­tive I-O ther­a­pies to more Chi­nese pa­tients as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“The Chi­nese govern­ment and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb share the same vi­sion of im­prov­ing both ac­cess to in­no­va­tive drugs and the health of Chi­nese pa­tients. We have al­ways ad­hered to pa­tient-cen­tric in­no­va­tions and ded­i­cated our­selves to be­com­ing a trusted part­ner of the govern­ment to achieve the goal of ‘Healthy China,’” Zhao said.

The peo­ple-ori­ented Chi­nese govern­ment has ac­tively car­ried out med­i­cal re­form to meet the needs of pa­tients in re­cent years. BMS, along with the whole in­dus­try, hopes that the re­form will be fur­ther deep­ened in the eval­u­a­tion and up­dat­ing of the na­tional re­im­burse­ment drug list and that a dy­namic ne­go­ti­a­tion mech­a­nism will be es­tab­lished as soon as pos­si­ble.

BMS sug­gests that Shang­hai con­tin­ues to give full play to its ad­van­tages of open­ness in line with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, bases it­self on the needs of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and takes in­no­va­tion as its core driv­ing force.

“The city should pro­mote all-round in­no­va­tion and en­cour­age ba­sic re­search and early de­vel­op­ment, part­ner­ship on in­no­va­tion as well as in­tro­duc­ing and de­vel­op­ment of ta­lent so as to re­al­ize the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the bio­pharma in­dus­try,” Zhao said.

Much has changed since the launch of re­form and open­ing-up. At the same time, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb China has stepped into the new stage of de­vel­op­ment. But what has not changed, is Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing crit­i­cal un­met med­i­cal needs in China.

In the face of chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb China re­gards Shang­hai as the fore­front and the root of its de­vel­op­ment in China. Putting pa­tients at the cen­ter of care, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb en­deav­ors to play a crit­i­cal role in ad­vanc­ing China’s bio­pharma in­dus­try through lead­ing in­no­va­tion, con­tin­u­ing its jour­ney of “we care, we pi­o­neer, for all pos­si­bil­i­ties” in China.

China has be­come one of Bris­tolMy­ers Squibb’s global re­search and de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing, com­mer­cial and in­no­va­tion cen­ters.

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