AstraZeneca continues pivot to east with Chinese collaboration

pharmafile | November 27, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing AstraZeneca, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

It’s been a rocky year for AstraZeneca, it has scored some major successes yet its year has been marred by the big failure of the Mystic trial – an announcement that knocked a big dent in the company’s share price, from which it is only just beginning to recover.

One of the major bright spots that helped the company recover from this disaster was noted in third quarter financials – its success in the Chinese market. In the filings, it revealed that its business in China had grown by 12% and that this country now makes up 15% of group product sales.

In the Q3 investor call, Pascal Soriot, CEO of AZ, pointed to the market as a key one, identifying that the country’s growing wealth meant more individuals of the populous country were able to afford medicine.

It should be no surprise that AZ has then announced further plans to cement its position in the country by announcing a joint venture with Chinese Future Industry Investment Fund. The collaboration will see the two come together to create a stand-alone business in China, with the creation of Dizal Pharmaceutical.

Dizal Pharmaceutical will operate out of AZ’s Innovation Center China (ICC) and will begin work immediately to develop three pre-clinical candidates within AZ’s pipeline. Other than this, the company will be expected to operate as any other stand-alone pharma company by developing its own clinical programmes.

Dr Xiaolin Zhang, previously Head of AstraZeneca’s ICC, has been named as Chief Executive Officer of the new company. All staff previously working at the ICC have also been invited to join the new company.

Soriot commented on the deal: “AstraZeneca has a long-standing and strong commitment to China, which we are reinforcing today with this ground-breaking joint venture. By joining forces with the FIIF, we aim to accelerate the local discovery and development of innovative, affordable medicines for patients in China and around the world.”

In further news announced at the same time, it was revealed that AZ had also submitted a supplemental new drug application in Japan for its lung cancer treatment, Tagrisso. The application is for use of the drug as a treatment of inoperable or recurrent epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer, as a first-line treatment.

Ben Hargreaves

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