Source: The following is an English translation of the transcript of Mr. Chen’s speech provided by the CAEFI office.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
Some of you may be wondering what a former Minister of Commerce and the Chairman of CAEFI is doing here at our International Pharmaceutical Innovation Forum? This is because the organizer of this forum is a professional committee of CAEFI – R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC). Of course, I am neither an official of the relevant pharmaceutical department of the Chinese government nor a pharmaceutical entrepreneur or expert. However, interestingly, I served as the general manager of a Jiangsu biochemical pharmaceutical company in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province 20 years ago, and that was my short foray into this arena. More importantly, I would like to elaborate on three points. Firstly, my understanding of the Chinese government's concern over the health of her people; secondly, the work that has been carried out by CAEFI in this regard; thirdly, my recommendations for this forum.
I believe, undoubtedly, in the Chinese government's concern for the health of her people. We have just ended Two Sessions this year, where Premier Li Keqiang made special mention regarding the health of the people, and 2,000 representatives and members of the National Committee of the CPPCC engaged in lively discussions on this issue. With China's economic output ranking second worldwide, and with its per capita GDP exceeding USD 8,000, the issue of health would naturally become the most important issue in the lives of the people. The reason why everyone is so concerned about the haze and with water pollution, the reason why the entire nation is so concerned over the minor issues found in food products, is exactly because the country pays great attention to health issues.
Therefore, we convened a special National Hygiene and Health Conference last year where General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the people's health as an important aspect in the comprehensive establishment of a moderately prosperous society; Premier Li Keqiang also mentioned that health is a basic need of the masses. Thus, we need to continually improve the level of medicine and health in order to create a healthy China.
The Chinese Communist Party has led the Chinese people in the development of China from a backward, semi-feudal and semi-colonial society to what China is today. Why? We have more money in each of our pockets, and why? Health is still the most important. So, what is the relationship between health and today's medicine? Human beings have caused certain damage to the natural environment in the course of evolution over thousands of years, and our different lifestyles have also brought us numerous diseases. Quoting China as an example, the current average life expectancy has reached 70-something years old as compared to a mere 30-something years old in the early feudal society of the past; the life expectancy in the locality of this forum is nearly 80-something years old. We hope for even healthier and longer lives, and this requires assurance through medicine. It is impossible that our health and genes will always be in good condition; hence our society requires innovation. Therefore, today's forum is of great concern to the Chinese people. For instance, the current incidence of cancer in China is very high, but certain pharmaceuticals still cannot be used in China at this point. The incidence of lung cancer is also very high, but 9291 [Osimertinib AZD9291] cannot be used, we have to use other related pharmaceuticals. We have produced a similar pharmaceutical in Betta Pharmaceuticals in Hangzhou, but it has not been included in the health insurances of provinces other than Zhejiang. Therefore, the subject of our discussion is related to today's medicine, as well as our level of healthcare backed by our overall economic strength. I met some friends who have fallen ill in Beijing. The doctor's advice was: if your income allows, then go to Hong Kong and Macau to buy such a medicine. But after you have bought it, you would need an intravenous injection. You will need to find a place that is able to do it for you. Evidently, there are still many issues that must be resolved with regard to our health. This really requires everyone here at this forum, all experts and enterprises, to give attention to the health of 1.3 billion people.
Secondly, I hope to do the work carried out by CAEFI. The R&D-based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) of CAEFI has 38 members who have continually created numerous new drugs since the 1980s. They have established 49 factories and 31 research and development centers in China. Apart from bringing benefits to patients, they have also contributed to the vibrant development of the domestic pharmaceutical industry. They are also committed to the long-term investment of promoting the development of the pharmaceutical industry, and their current investment in research and development has exceeded 8 billion Yuan. At the same time, they have also carried out more than 200 projects in cooperation with public hospitals, universities and research institutes in various regions that focus on the field of key diseases of national concern, in which skills, knowledge, and industry standards are transmitted. They actively cooperate with local enterprises to help open the door for their entry into the international market, enabling a continual influx of Chinese people into the new network of global research and development. They have also deployed groups and groups of outstanding professional and senior professionals to China's pharmaceutical companies. In addition, CAEFI is also playing a particularly important role in China's R&D outsourcing, which has developed to a scale of tens of billions of yuan. This has not only boosted Chinese pharmaceutical companies, but it has also greatly reduced the barriers to innovation.
Finally, I would like to share some of my raw recommendations for this forum. Firstly, we need to create a better investment environment for R&D enterprises and pharmaceutical companies in China. This is because all the enterprises registered in China, regardless of the source of their capital, are Chinese enterprises, operate according to Chinese laws and enterprise registration. With regard to this, you must be convinced that, whether you are Eli Lilly or any other company, your Chinese-invested enterprise is both your invested enterprise as well as a Chinese enterprise, and it should be entitled to the same treatment as all Chinese enterprises. Secondly, attention should be given to the protection of intellectual property rights. The continued innovation of new drugs for the health of our people will only be possible with the protection of the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical manufacturers. Third, we should fully deploy the latest new technologies. Human society has entered into an era of self-learning, which we term as the AI era. Perhaps we have just come upon a threshold or perhaps our computers are still self-learning and shallow learning at this point, but such a reality will set in quickly because we have big data and cloud computing. Everyone knows that our industry is an industry of high risk and one that has a long investment cycle. However, by relying on emerging intelligence, we may be able to create more new pharmaceuticals in a shorter time using certain new computing methods and screening methods, which will shorten the cycle and lower the risks. I remember last year in March, President Obama pointed out in his State of the Union Address that the effort to find a cure for cancer reached a pivotal point in human history. It will take the United States five to ten years to find a complete cure of cancer. In fact, in the 70’s of the last century, there were already many people in the United States seeking to overcome such an obstacle and have even spent a lot of money on this. Federal investment was one of them. However, looking back in time, the conditions for human’s final victory over cancer were not in place then. This is because we did not have big data or cloud computing, basically nothing close to intelligence. I think that we possess such conditions now. Of course, Chinese people are really hoping that the same dream will come true in China several years down the road. We hope that everyone will strive towards such hope. This is certainly possible! We need a good investment environment. Like the place where the Forum is taking place, some really good soil for investment can be found in Nanjing, in Jiangsu, particularly in Jiangning and Jiangning Economic and Technological Development Zone. China's development is generally uneven; the two coastal delta regions and Bohai Sea region are currently the most suitable regions for pharmaceutical innovation and development. For instance, China Pharmaceutical University is right here, in Nanjing. China is promoting One Belt, One Road, which implies that along this long belt from China to Europe, there are market opportunities covering about 4 billion people. Therefore, with our roots in this region, we should have a global market mindset, which will enable us to launch more pharmaceuticals for the benefit of all mankind. What will be the opportunities that One Belt, One Road will bring to our pharmaceutical industry? We can explore this issue in detail when we have the opportunity next time. We have established the layout, considerations and policies to a great extent; due to time constraints, I cannot say more. But when time permits in the future, I would like to integrate this topic of strategic opportunities along One Belt, One Road, with our research and development, and innovation of new pharmaceuticals, for our common study.
Thank you everyone!