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The Rise of Chinese Biopharmaceuticals

It's not uncommon to see new drugs developed by the collaboration between big international pharmaceutical companies and Chinese venture companies these days. "A decade ago, China 's biopharmaceuticals were modest, but it' s hard to ignore now." said a VC fund partner.

China's role in the global pharmaceutical market has changed, and the long-standing supplier of cheap pharmaceutical raw materials as well as generic drugs has gradually become a major source of important new drugs. According to data released by the National Institutes of Health, China has become the second-largest country to use biotechnology for clinical trials.

There's no doubt that large foreign pharmaceutical companies have noted China's fast-growing bio-pharmaceutical development. For example, Merck Pharmaceuticals has been paying more attention to the China market. In 2015 it set up a special R & D center in Shanghai. In order to seek a breakthrough in pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson also opened a similar R & D center in Shanghai in 2014. Over the past two years, U.S. pharmaceutical companies such as Lilly, Merck and Incyte have also invested heavily in China's pharmaceutical companies.

Of course, China's transformation in the pharmaceutical industry is not complete overnight. There are still some obstacles. For example, the Internet in China is not completely open to the rest of the world. The so-called Great Firewall of China blocks some popular international websites, including some sources for scientists to do their research. Many Chinese scientists have to use tools such as VPN to bypass Internet blocking in China. However, many believe that once the direction of development has been determined, it is only a matter of time to complete the transformation.

China is a promising market. In order to promote the development of local pharmaceutical industry, Beijing's pharmaceutical companies in China not only invested, but also introduced a variety of incentives. Such as attracting overseas talent to return home, invest billions of dollars to build a science and technology park that brings together biotech start-up companies and to speed up the approval of biological new drugs.

Most Chinese start-ups are simply replicating or imitating existing biopharmaceuticals at the start stage, but there are some companies that have been challenged to start developing drugs that have never been clinically tested.

Following the successful extraction of substances from Chinese hamster ovary cells and the development of new drugs, the current Xinda biological has begun to clinical trials of this new drug; Eli Lilly is also preparing to submit clinical trial applications. Once the drug is approved, Eli Lilly will sell new drugs to the rest of the world (except China, the domestic market dominated by Cinda).

The rise of China's bio-pharmaceutical industry has attracted a lot of venture capital investors. According to ChinaBio, investment in the life sciences sector has hit a new high of $ 5.3 billion over the past year, nearly 10 times more than five years ago.

In 2008, Eli Lilly set up the Asian venture capital fund, it is worth noting that almost all the fund (500 million US dollars) was invested in China's biotechnology start-up companies.


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