(Yicai) Oct. 30 -- Novartis Pharmaceuticals will continue investing in China given the strength and global recognition of the country’s biopharmaceutical industry, according to the president of the firm’s local unit.
The company will “strengthen clinical tests, localization in manufacturing and cooperation with Chinese firms,” Zhang Ying said in an interview with Yicai ahead of the sixth China International Import Expo.
This year will mark the sixth CIIE that Novartis has participated in. The company will show some of its top products at the expo, including four drugs that have not yet entered the Chinese market. Another of its newest products is the long-acting cholesterol-lowering drug Leqvio, which landed in China two weeks ago.
“Leqvio is a perfect example to show how important the CIIE is for foreign drugmakers and the recognition of innovative drugs by China’s regulatory authorities,” Zhang said.
“China is a very important market for innovative drugs and the second-most important medical market after the United States, she said. “Novartis pays close attention to China.
“Many Novartis products have gained approval to be sold in the Chinese market, and Novartis is exploring localized production of the drugs in the country,” Zhang said.
The firm’s gene therapy products have not entered China yet, but Zhang said Novartis is still working on it and hopes to bring its gene therapy platform and high-end biotechnologies to China.
The company may also work with Chinese firms in gene therapy, especially in clinical trials, she added.
Gene therapies are expensive, and none of the existing chimeric antigen receptor T-cell immunotherapies are covered by China’s medical insurance.
But Zhang said China’s yearly medical insurance negotiations and updating of the health insurance directory has enabled more drugs to reach more patients.
Kisqali, a cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitor made by Novartis which was approved in China this year, is now part of negotiations for inclusion in China’s health insurance, she said. Novartis will consider whether to put forward Leqvio for the talks next year, based on the supply and demand situation in China, she added.
One of the key challenges for a drugmaker that focuses on innovation is how to ensure that more patients can afford its drugs as soon as possible, Zhang noted.
Editors: Tang Shihua, Tom Litting