China Alzheimer's Approval Raises Hope But Also Questions
While the approval in China of a novel algae-derived drug for Alzheimer's appears to be a breakthrough, it has also left some wondering about long-term efficacy and the reasons for the apparent rush to grant the clearance ahead of a major pending filing for the disease in the US.
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Once the world's factory, China has seen costs inch up while drug prices are being cut deeply by centralized procurement schemes. As uncertainties mount, companies need to focus on improving process and scale-up technology, suggested industry observers at a JPM panel discussion on innovation and market access challenges.
2019 was the year that China approved the first new drug for Alzheimer's in nearly two decades and for the first US approval of an original cancer drug from China. While the simmering US trade war has been addressed by a phase one agreement to be signed, other uncertainties marked a year dominated by a large vaccine scandal and resulting bankruptcy, and increasing calls to include China in global clinical development plans.
As China embraces novel new drugs, oncology is quickly becoming the biggest opportunity for pharma to drive growth in this market. Amgen is the latest to jump on board through the purchase of a significant stake in BeiGene.