Global pharma giants remain committed to investing in Shanghai
Shanghai, a well-established destination for investment from home and abroad, is confident to ride the waves of a rising city to attract more quality investment with better policies and services.
Pharma companies remain undaunted by the disruption brought by the pandemic and are maintaining their investment in China's booming health-care market with various new partnerships and collaborations spanning a wide range of fields.
Siemens Healthineers said it plans to to further enhance the scale of localization and expand product listings to be made in China to better suit local demands.
In addition to existing local products, some of its high-end product lines like magnetic resonance facilities, MRI scanners and ultrasound systems are now also being produced locally.
In late June, the National Medical Products Administration issued a guidance to encourage imported medical devices to be manufactured locally and to support the research of utilization of real world data for developing new treatments.
Elisabeth Staudinger, president of Siemens Healthineers Asia-Pacific, explained it aims to work with local suppliers that can support long-term growth and it's essential for local partners to grow with its business size to ensure stability and not just for the sake of cost-saving.
Seeking local collaboration will allow it to be better positioned to offer diagnosis and screening solutions for domestic patients.
Its latest local investment includes a 3-billion-yuan (US$449 million) manufacturing plant in Shanghai for making in vitro diagnostics facilities and reagents for blood testing.
The plant, the company's first in vitro diagnostic production base in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to complete construction by the end of this year and start production and delivery in 2023.
The Varian Global Innovation Center will also open in Beijing focused on early cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, which marked the biggest investment in China since Siemens Healthineers completed its acquisition of Varian in April 2021.
A wide range of potential collaborations with local startups are expected to spring up thanks to closer ties between multinationals and domestic players.
Last week, AstraZeneca R&D China officially launched its "Translational Medicine Research Grant" to support and encourage basic medicine research and related translational medicine research.
Eight pre-selected local startups also carried out a roadshow as part of the company's newly launched CoSolve Innovation Program which invites local innovation companies and research institutes to propose solutions.
Four panel members from AstraZeneca reviewed proposals and the selected projects will be supported by AstraZeneca Global R&D, AstraZeneca's China Health Innovation Hub (iCampus) and the AstraZeneca-CICC Healthcare Industrial Fund as well as relevant government departments.
He Jing, head of AstraZeneca R&D China and senior vice president of AstraZeneca, expects local research funding by 2023 to be 2.5 times that of 2020 as it hopes to further build on its Shanghai and neighboring region's industry cluster.
Latest initiatives to foster new solutions and co-innovation also emerge.
The "Innovate China 2022" competition, jointly launched by the China Europe International Business School and Bohringer Ingelheim, will open for registration in August, with the final in December.
Three winners will be selected out of the finalists as the German drugmaker pushes forward its collaboration with local partners after it set up a digital lab in 2020 in Shanghai to pursue latest health-care solutions.
According to industry watchers, thanks to increased R&D funding and favorable policies, local health-care innovation clusters will continue to expand to bring more multinational companies, local biotechs and translational centers together.
China's role in the global R&D value chain system will continue to evolve with increased participation in cutting-edge treatment and technologies, according to Deloitte China's recent "China Health Ecosystem 2030" study.
Multinationals will be moving beyond traditional business models and explore new opportunities to localize research, manufacturing and supply chain to participate in the growing market, commented Deloitte China Life Sciences & Health Care Industry Leader Jens Ewert.
Shanghai remains a much sought-after destination for overseas companies and the city has been welcoming foreign pharma giants to set up local innovation facilities and build the city into an international sci-tech innovation center.
By the end of May, Shanghai has 848 regional headquarters set up by multinationals and 512 foreign research centers.
Shanghai is also one of the cities to explore new payment methods and insurance policies by launching inclusive supplementary medical insurance that provides patients access to more treatment.
The low-cost policy with a premium of 129 yuan has been focusing on solving the long-term medical expenses of serious and chronic disease patients.
This year the city's new policy adds 40 kinds of high-cost specialty drugs besides two immuno therapies from Shanghai drug firms.
Fosun Kite's Yescarta prescription injection is one of the immunotherapies to be included which treats certain kinds of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
It has been included in over 30 city-level supplementary budget commercial medical insurance plan.
Immunotherapies, which means customizing cells from each individual patient to help them fight cancer, could cost as much as 1 million yuan for each treatment session, and the inclusion into the supplementary insurance plan means they could would become affordable for more eligible patients.
The new treatment was approved by the National Medical Production Administration to launch in China last year and has since been speeding up accessibility for local patients.
Chief executive officer Huang Hai said its Shanghai research lab is also carrying out clinical studies for a new type of cell treatment for patients with relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), while additional research projects regarding solid tumors are also underway.