On November 6, 2020, the “Innovation and Collaboration for Healthy China” conference given by the R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee of the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (RDPAC) was solemnly held in the Medical Devices and Medical Care exhibition area of the China International Import Expo. The meeting was hosted by Kang Wei, Managing Director of RDPAC. The incoming guests included He Qinghua, the Primary Inspector of the Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control, National Health Commission, Liu Zhefeng, member of the Party Committee and deputy director of the Hainan Boao Lecheng Pilot Zone Administration Bureau, He Songhao, Deputy Director of the Henan Provincial Department of Commerce, Yang Benchu, Secondary Inspector of Hubei Provincial Department of Commerce, Pan Hongxing, Director of the Vaccine Evaluation Institute of Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zhang Wenhong (Chinese Fauci) Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital Affiliated to Fudan University, Asgar Rangoonwala, Chairman of the Executive Committee of RDPAC and President of Xian Janssen, as well as general managers and business representatives of RDPAC member companies such as Abbott, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi. The guests at the meeting shared opinions on topics such as medical innovation, epidemic prevention and control, vaccine research and development, and international cooperation, and jointly spoke for a healthy China.
Under the global spread of COVID-19 epidemic, the scheduled convening of the third CIIE demonstrated the achievements of the Chinese government and all sectors of society in fighting against the epidemic. As a highlight of this year's CIIE, the Public Health and Epidemic Prevention Zone showcased the progress made in the innovative research and development of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19, fully reflecting the unique value of medical innovation and international cooperation in responding to the public health crisis and boosting a healthy China.
Pharmaceutical Innovation-A Critical Path to Respond to Health Threats
At present, the number of people infected with COVID-19 has approached 50 million globally. The outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted the key role of medical technology innovation and international cooperation in responding to major global public health challenges. What is the future development trend of COVID-19? What role will international cooperation play in the fight against the epidemic? In response to these questions, Zhang Wenhong, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital affiliated to Fudan University, shared his opinions at the scene.
Zhang Wenhong pointed out that, with significant stubbornness, contagion, and complexity, COVID-19 shows an increasingly possibility of continued existence in human society. "In my viewpoint, given the development situation of COVID-19 at today, it can be said that it is difficult for us to overcome it in the short term. What is the only hope? The answer is actually here. Here, we gather the best companies from all over the world and China. Everyone here displays the latest products developed all over the world. Many people ask me which country’s vaccines will be developed faster and which country’s drugs will come out first? I think it’s actually the same, because technology knows no borders, and anti-epidemics know no borders. Via international cooperation, we will surely see the dawn next year."
Medicine has large R&D investment, long cycle and high risk. It usually takes more than 10 years for a medicine to go on the market from the early stage of development. As the entire world is looking forward to the launch of COVID-19-related vaccines and drugs, regarding how to develop vaccines fast and effectively in a short period of time, quality and yield guarantee are topics worthy of further concern. Pan Hongxing, Director of the Vaccine Evaluation Institute of Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the meeting: "As mentioned in the 73rd World Health Assembly, equality, sharing, and cooperation should be the current requirements for vaccine research and development. Equality here means vaccines are global product, sharing involves the sharing of technical knowledge and information related to research and development, cooperation is the key word of current development, especially in the medicine and medical care field. Only by collaboratively collecting advanced materials related to vaccine research and development, we can reap the fruits of cooperation.” In addition, he also emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen cooperation between countries and regions and among professional developers.
International Cooperation-Multiple Parties Work Together to Cope with the Epidemic Challenges
The outbreak of COVID-19 also makes us realize that the fight against the epidemic is not something that any country or enterprise can handle alone. Only by international cooperation can we have the hope of defeating the epidemic. Practice has proved that international cooperation can effectively promote the development of pharmaceutical innovation and make the results of global innovation benefit Chinese patients as soon as possible. RDPAC and its member companies have accumulated rich experiences in cooperation with China. In the past five years, RDPAC and its member companies have invested more than 60 billion RMB in R&D in China, introduced more than 200 innovative drugs, and have been committed to drawing on international experiences, actively exploring localized solutions to continually contribute to a healthy China.
The cooperation between RDPAC members and the Hainan Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone in the introduction of innovative drugs is one of the best examples of international collaboration for healthy China, and has opened up a special "green channel" to meet the treatment needs of domestic patients. Liu Zhefeng, member of the Party Committee and Deputy Director of the Boao Lecheng Xianxing District Administration Bureau, said at the meeting that since the second CIIE, more than 120 kinds of drugs and medical devices unavailable in China have benefited domestic patients through the policy support to achieve "triple synchronization" between medical technology, equipment, drugs and international advanced level. In addition, the use of real-world clinical data in the Lecheng Pilot Zone has also received joint policy support from the National Medical Products Administration, Customs, Health Commission, Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Finance, which will accelerate the entry of global innovative products into China. "In the future, we hope that more anti-cancer drugs and life-saving drugs can enter China more quickly through Lecheng, so that Chinese patients can enjoy excellent medical services through Lecheng."
Mr. Asgar Rangoonwala, Chairman of the Executive Committee of RDPAC, emphasized on behalf of RDPAC and member companies: “This meeting once again reminds us of the important role of innovation and international cooperation in fighting the global epidemic. 42 RDPAC member companies have been working together to bring the world’s best medical innovation achievements to China, the most beautiful country in the world. 19 RDPAC member companies participated in the CIIE this year, which once again testifies all our pharmaceutical companies’ commitment to help China’s medical and health system construction and achieve the goal of a healthy China. As a partner of the Chinese government, RDPAC will continue to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with the National Health Commission, the National Medical Products Administration, the Medical Insurance Bureau, and government departments at all levels in the future, working together to make global pharmaceutical innovations benefit Chinese patients and people ."
Kang Wei, Managing Director of RDPAC, introduced the outstanding contributions of multinational pharmaceutical companies in fighting the epidemic and boosting a healthy China. She said that since the outbreak of the epidemic, RDPAC member companies have acted quickly to support the fight against the epidemic, and have accumulatively donated medicines and protective materials worth more than 200 million RMB. At the same time, member companies of RDPAC as a global leader in pharmaceutical innovation and R&D are fully committed to the research and development of COVID-19-related drugs and vaccines. Currently, nearly 100 innovative research progresses in COVID-19 vaccines and treatments have been announced. "RDPAC is committed to becoming an important partner in the effort to achieve the goal of 'Healthy China 2030' and continuously improve residents and patients’ quality of life. We are a leader of innovative ideas, a provider of solutions, and a promoter of win-win cooperation. RDPAC and its member companies will continuously introduce innovative drugs and vaccines from the world through pharmaceutical innovation and international cooperation to benefit the Chinese people and help achieve the goal of Healthy China 2030."