The development of a new cancer drug in China represents the growing optimism for pharmaceutical start-ups in the country. The government’s goal to push the Chinese drug industry above its current state of replicating those developed in the West appears to be gaining traction.
Dr. Xian-Ping Lu, former director of research for major drug maker Galderma R&D, left his US occupation to start Chipscreen Bioscience in Shenzhen. After 14 years of research, Dr. Lu’s medication for a rare lymph node cancer finally hit the market in China. The development process for the drug was completed, start to finish, in China. Moreover, it is the first of its kind to be approved for sale in the China and fourth to do so globally.
The cost of creating the drug, Epidaza, was estimated to be about $US70 million. If Dr. Lu decided to start his venture in the US, his costs would be 10 times what they were in China. This represents a major opportunity for the industry in China, who’s spending on pharmaceuticals is expected to be $US107 billion this year. Comparatively, in 2007, such spending was only $US26 billion.
If this trend continues, predictions show that China could own the second largest pharmaceutical market, globally, right behind the US. Still, intellectual property laws need to be strengthened and healthcare costs should be cut to help foster this growth.