Novartis sees local drug market taking off as demand surges

By ZHONG NAN and ZHENG YIRAN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-05 08:08

Novartis sees local drug market taking off as demand surges

The logo of Swiss drugmaker Novartis is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland in this October 22, 2013 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG plans to make big inroads into China's oncology market by bringing two new cutting edge cancer drugs to the country, as demand in the country for drugs to treat the disease continues to rise.

The new products launched by Novartis are Votrient and Jakavi, which received approval by the China Food and Drug Administration in the last couple of months. Votrient is for a form of kidney cancer called advanced renal cell carcinoma and the medicine Jakavi is for myelofibrosis, a bone marrow condition.

The approval of the two new drugs is expected to offer more treatment options for Chinese patients, according to the company.

"Every year 2.8 million people in China die from cancer," said Bruno Strigini, chief executive officer of Novartis Oncology.

"The need for oncology medicine is huge," Strigini added.

In 2016, the top 12 best-selling cancer drugs accounted for 19.2 percent of the market share in China and their sales revenues totaled $706 million. The remaining 80.8 percent of the market had a total of $2.97 billion in sales, according to Firestone Inventing, a consulting company specialized in medical industry.

"The incidence rate among cancer patients in China is growing, with the problems of aging and the influence of the environment, the market potential for cancer drugs is big," said Pan Zhihua, vice-president of Firestone Inventing.

"In addition, with the advancement of treatment methods, the survival rates of the patients will increase and their life spans will be lengthened, therefore, the market will continue to expand."

Novartis' Strigini said China was one of his group's key strategic markets. In mid 2016, Novartis opened a research and development campus in Shanghai, which mainly targets various types of cancer that occur frequently in China and other regions of Asia.

It is one of the global pharmaceutical company's three major R&D centers worldwide.

As early as in 2007, Novartis established its institute for biomedical research in Shanghai, still in operation a decade later.

"The research and development campus, along with the institute for biomedical research in Shanghai, targets diseases that are prevalent in Asia," said Didier Dargent, general manager of Novartis Oncology (China).

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