AstraZeneca Embraces China's Opening-Up to Spur Innovation
Yicai Global
/SOURCE : yicai
AstraZeneca Embraces China's Opening-Up to Spur Innovation

(Yicai Global) April 15 -- AstraZeneca will actively seize the opportunities China's further opening-up presents by strengthening innovation and cooperation for the benefit of local patients in the drugmaker's second-largest market, according to the company's chairman.

On his latest trip to Beijing, Leif Johansson said the UK pharmaceutical company will continue to entrench itself in China and deepen its positioning in the market. 

AstraZeneca is a major player in China, a market it entered in 1993. The Cambridge-based company has established a string of science, innovation centers and supply sites across the nation. Last year, its China sales increased by 25 percent to almost USD3.8 billion.

Johansson spoke highly of the domestic investment environment. It is "developing very well," he said, "and therefore, AZ is continuing our focus on investing in R&D, but also manufacturing in China." 

"With the new legislation coming, there is further support through enhanced IP protection," he said. "And with the [government initiative] Healthy China 2030, there is clearly an expanding market where we will also be able to supply good medicines out into a much wider geography in China than we have so far." 

In Johansson's view, China's new foreign investment law will help create a more open, fair and transparent investment environment. The national legislature passed the law in March, aiming to improve the transparency of foreign investment policies and ensure domestic and foreign businesses are subject to a unified set of rules and compete on a level playing field. 

Benefit from a Fair and Dynamic Market

AstraZeneca believes that an optimized market environment that advocates a fair, positive and dynamic investment atmosphere can maximize corporate innovation, help attract and gather overseas resources, and further promote the integration of foreign companies and the Chinese economy to achieve common development.

As AstraZeneca's second-biggest market and an important drug innovation and production base, the company is sure to grasp China's positive development momentum, Johansson said.

The firm has been developing more quality treatments for patients through independent innovation. The internet and digital technologies centered on the Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence technologies are profoundly influencing and changing all aspects of human life. AstraZeneca has been exploring the use of these technologies to develop complete diseasemanagement solutions to benefit more patients.

One of the solutions mentioned above is the whole-city China Chest Pain Center model established in Wuxi. It is an open, collaborative, and innovative health care ecosystem that aims to provide complete disease management. This treatment facility model is "where we are looking at how to best treat patients from perhaps all the way out of city when they feel chest pain, and through ambulances into the nurse and doctor's emergency rooms and moving onto the operation table," Johansson said. "We can connect digitally all of the sequence of that. We can provide patients with much quicker care and with that promoting better outcomes."

Moreover, the firm plans to roll out more innovative projects in this field, Johansson said. For example, Roxadustat, a new drug to treat chronic kidney disease-induced anemia, was approved first in China, ahead even of the US, he added. 

At the China International Import Expo in 2018, the company showcased about 30 innovative products that it had brought to China since establishing its presence in the country in 1993. During the CIIE in Shanghai, the firm said it will continuously adjust its development strategy and is beginning to place a heavier emphasis on local R&D innovation.

Committed to Covering the Whole Life Cycle to Improve People's Lives

This year on March 27, AstraZeneca signed a Memorandum of Understanding of strategic cooperation with Wuxi High-Tech Zone and announced that it would support the government to build the International Life Science Innovation Campus in Wuxi and work together to create a new life science ecosystem.

AstraZeneca also hopes to cooperate with local partners to fully support the country's Healthy China 2030 policy and other health projects, promote the government's 'big health' vision and provide patient-oriented medical and health services, Johansson added.

Executive Vice President International and China President of AstraZeneca Leon Wang also expressed the same views as Johansson in an interview. The endeavor is expected to provide Chinese patients with innovative disease management solutions—covering the whole life cycle—to improve their lives, Wang said.

Most recently, AstraZeneca's collaboration with Luye Pharma Group, which promotes proprietary Chinese medicines, was the first in which a large-scale multinational drug company in China promoted innovative Chinese traditional medicines independently developed by local pharmaceutical firms, Wang added.

"The innovative business model in China will not only stay in China," Wang said in an earlier interview with media. "After being applied to various therapeutic fields, the model can be used in other markets. In the future, governments and medical institutions in other countries will be eager to embrace Chinese innovation, and that era is coming soon."

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Keywords: AstraZeneca , Leif Johansson