Medical reforms spell out profit for pharma giants

BY    2013-04-14 18:16:37

  Within just a few days in late March, more than 10 international healthcare companies launched new medicines and medical devices aimed at the Chinese market.

  In 2012, the government's spending on healthcare rose 27.1 percent, and 20 serious illnesses were included in the medical insurance system.

  Drug manufacturer Sanofi's headquarters in Paris. It is already expanding its manufacturing capability in China. [Photo/China Daily]

  During the annual two sessions of the nation's top legislature and political advisory body in early March, the government announced it will invest more in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases as well as expand the reimbursement medical system with more medicines added to the essential drugs list.

  The announcements sparked many of the world's leading multinationals into action.

  Sanofi SA, the French multinational pharmaceutical company considered the world's fourth-largest by prescription sales, was quick to announce that its injectable diabetes treatment Lyxumia - which has just gained approval from the European Union - would be introduced to the Chinese market soon.

  The company is already expanding its manufacturing capability in China.

  Its $90 million Beijing plant is producing Lantus, its once-a-day, long-acting insulin treatment, and the company plans to open a new production line to start making the injection device needed for the drug.

  Lantus is insulin for treatment of both type-1 and type-2 diabetes.

  The former is one of the diseases newly included in China's medical insurance system. The treatment is also listed in China's reimbursement medicine list now.

  Sanofi is cooperating with academic institutes and universities to carry out type-1 diabetes studies in China, looking at morbidity, medical costs and daily care of the disease.

  "There has been no specific national survey carried out on the disease in China, so we hope our survey can help our medicines be more targeted at local patients," said Kelvin Lam, vice-president of Sanofi China's diabetes division.

  US-based biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb is also focusing on type-2 diabetes. It plans to launch at least four medications for treatment by 2015.

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