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China's biotech industry: An Asian dragon is growing
Date:1/7/2008

the countrys one-child policy.

Lung fibrosis, caused by radiation treatment, is a major cause of death for the more than 275,000 Chinese who die from lung cancer every year. Inflammation and fibrosis of the liver is a side effect from hepatitis B virus infection, which afflicts over 100 million Chinese.

Shanghai Genomics Inc. has focused its efforts in this area, developing novel non-steroid anti-inflammatory therapeutics to replace currently available treatments which achieve poor results and have many side effects. The companys first product on the market, GuBang, is a material for bone void filling that can aid bone growth and serve the growing needs of Asias aging citizens.

Chinese firms are also developing vaccines to address both local and global needs. They include Shanghai United Cell Biotech, which is manufacturing and marketing one of only two oral cholera vaccines available worldwide (and the only one available in tablet form). Other firms are working on an oral HIV vaccine and novel vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis, SARS and pandemic avian influenza (H5N1 strain).

Barriers to development

The study found that the lack of favourable conditions for investment in an innovative biotech sector may be actively discouraging its growth. Most Chinese biopharmaceutical companies sell generic drugs and do not invest in R&D.

Some of the firms that are pursuing innovative R&D have incorporated hybrid business models that dilute resources to include contract services or non-innovative products, to first fund the firms survival and then fund R&D activities, the report says.

These hybrid business models have fallen out of favor in the west, where venture capitalists prefer a well-defined targeted strategy over a mix of models that mitigate commercial risk. As price-based competition among domestic manufacturers continues to put pressure on profit margins, even fewer firms may be able to support
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert

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