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National blueprint prescribes shot in the arm for drugs companies

Wang Wen
Updated: Mar 8,2016 9:08 AM     China Daily

The constant use of phrases such as “biological medicine”, “healthcare reform” and “a healthy China” in the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) has encouraged pharmaceutical companies, both Chinese and foreign, to expand their development programs.

According to the plan, the move is intended “to strengthen the prevention and cure of infectious, chronic and endemic diseases”, and a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical supplies companies will adapt their research and development programs to fit the requirements.

“We have already adjusted the direction of our research to focus on market demand, in accordance with the plan,” said Hu Jiqiang, chairman of Conba Group, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, who is a deputy to the National People’s Congress.

Chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular and respiratory obstructions, will remain the company’s core field over the next five years, Hu said.

He added that Conba-which focuses on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases-is also working on eight new treatments for respiratory illness. “We expect to gain advantages in this field in the coming years,” he said.

Feng Danlong, director of corporate affairs for China at Pfizer and a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, proposed a stronger focus on the management of dyslipidemia-excessive levels of fat in the blood-to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Biological medicine is also referred to several times in the plan, and the government has already taken a number of steps to support the sector, according to An Kang, chairman of Hualan Biological Engineering, China’s largest manufacturer of human blood products, which is based in Henan province.

“The government has given us great support with the policies related to technological research,” he said.

The wording of the plan has encouraged the company to establish a research and development center that will also include an “academic workstation” that will offer opportunities for academic research, he said.

In the next five years, Hualan Bio will continue to add to its product range and narrow the gap with foreign competitors, he added.

Foreign companies also have great expectations for China’s healthcare reform, which will be deepened during the period of the plan.

“We expect substantial progress in the implementation of healthcare-reform policies in the coming five years,” said Yin Xudong, chairman of Novartis Greater China.

The approval process for new drugs could also be accelerated to reduce the current five-year waiting period in the introduction of innovative new drugs in China, Yin said.

The quality standards, which ensure that patients have access to safe, high-quality generic drugs, could also be raised, he said.