Updated on 16 May 2012
China is soon emerging to be one of the fastest to adopt new biotechnologies, which has further instilled confidence in companies investing in the country. Dr Richard Connell of Pfizer, Shanghai, adds that drug discovery is now too broad a problem to be solved alone, and requires the right mix of local biotechs, hospitals and CROs, something that China is striving to achieve.
Dr RuiPing Dong, senior vice-president, head of Emerging Markets Research & Development, Merck Research Labs, talks about what makes China an important destination from an investment point of view. "In the recent years, China, particularly Beijing, has witnessed a rapid escalation of life sciences expertise and capabilities. By strategically establishing an R&D footprint in Beijing, we believe we are well-positioned to complement our existing R&D capabilities and facilitate new collaborations with scientists in the region and across emerging markets," he says, adding that Beijing has many healthcare and academic institutions and companies with which "we hope to partner and collaborate as we advance our R&D".
"For example, we are partnering with BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and with BeiGene for Oncology R&D. We also partners with Fuwai Hospital in Beijing on clinical development in the cardiovascular area. So, our footprint in China is there and is growing," he says.
Another unique factor in biologics manufacturing has been the government regulations, which have specified that the production of biologics would take place at the company's site itself and not through a contract manufacturing organization (CMO). Even though this rule has prevented the CMO industry from taking off in China, it has allowed the Chinese government to have better control on the quality of products.
With a population of a billion plus, but India and China both offer an attractive proposition for carrying out large-scale clinical research studies. Quintiles launched Kun Tuo in China in December 2011 to specifically address the needs of the Chinese population and provide a more focused competitive solution.
Dr Amar Kureishi, chief medical officer and head of Strategic Drug Development for Quintiles in Asia-Pacific, explains the principle behind such a move. "Through Kun Tuo, we are looking at China's healthcare needs by aiding emerging biotechs in China that are developing drugs and are looking for CROs and solution specifically for China," he says.