Reforms encourage availability of more new drugs in China

Updated 2017-04-13 09:30:50 Global Times

A senior executive from a U.S.-based drugmaker said that the newly announced medical reforms in Beijing are pushing the company to transform its practices and bring more new drugs into China.

Zheng Yiman, vice president of MSD China, made the remark on the sidelines of a meeting to introduce the results of diabetes research. Zheng said the reform will have an "impact" on the company's business in China, but it will also encourage MSD China to reduce costs and bring more new medicines to China.

In March, Beijing introduced a reform plan to end markups on drug prices and adjust prices of 435 medical services, the boldest move so far to improve the healthcare system in China.

Starting from April 8, a medical service fee replaced drug markups, as well as separate registration and treatment fees, according to the plan. Drug prices were previously marked up by as much as 15 percent, but this practice has been banned in more than 3,600 hospitals and medical institutions in the city, according to Xinhua.

"We will take opportunities from the reform," Zheng said.

Zheng also mentioned that the reform will reduce the gap in terms of speed in introducing medicines from overseas, as in the past, the gap could be as long as five years. Meanwhile, research and development (R&D) efforts are not at the same level as those overseas.

Luckily, regulators have been encouraging introducing and producing more innovative drugs in China, which makes R&D with global standards more possible, Zheng noted. "It benefits the Chinese drug development." He said how to improve the registration drug speed and how to improve the quality of clinical research are the main challenges.

The company reported full-year 2016 worldwide sales of .8 billion, an increase of 1 percent. The U.S. is still the largest market for the drugmaker, although China is among its top five global markets.

The diabetes meeting on Wednesday heard that the dual- and triple-therapy treatments based on a combination of Metformin and Sitagliptin are effective and well tolerated.

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