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October 28, 2018

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Establishing an Asian medical hub and advancing the Shanghai Brand in the new era

AS top executives from the world’s leading companies gathered at the 30th annual International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council (IBLAC) conference, Dr. Severin Schwan, CEO of the Roche Group, returned to Shanghai to share his insights and support the successful branding of the city and the further deepening of reform and opening up in the new era.

At this year’s IBLAC, Dr. Schwan offered suggestions and recommendations in support of building Shanghai into a dominant Asian medical hub with world-class medical services and a dynamic and prosperous biomedical cluster to advance the Shanghai Brand. As the Shanghai Brand is a symbol of the city’s dynamism and magnetism, it offers a clear framework for achieving the twin goals of reform and opening up and high-quality development.

“As a global financial center and as China’s innovation hub, Shanghai should leverage its advantages and adopt the highest international standards as a baseline as it becomes an Asian medical hub,” advised Dr. Schwan. He emphasized how Shanghai could leverage policy tools to expedite the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Diagnosis and Treatment of Special Diseases in the near term. The Center could focus on special diseases for which there is a lack of effective treatment options in China and the Asia-Pacific region, while improving public awareness, accessibility and affordability of innovative therapies, and clinical research capabilities for special diseases. In addition, the city can utilize the Center to foster international collaboration and increase clinical applications for Internet Plus technologies including artificial intelligence and big data.

In the long-term, Dr. Schwan said that Shanghai should continue formulating innovative policies and utilize its advantages in resource allocation as a global financial center to develop a dynamic and prosperous biomedical industry cluster. It would maintain its status as an Asian medical hub with cutting-edge R&D and advanced manufacturing, while focusing on enhancing collaboration among research institutions, enterprises, and hospitals, and formulating industry policies that meet the highest international standards. Moreover, Shanghai could increase long-term investment in the biomedical industry through diversified capital support and in-depth government-enterprise collaboration, and make a significant effort to attract and cultivate talent.

With its exceptionally innovative nature, the biomedical sector could develop industry clusters alongside the medical services sector, which is clearly the best strategic option for promoting the Shanghai Brand and contributing to the city’s dominance in global innovation. “We are pleased to partner with Shanghai as the city works to promote the Shanghai Brand, advance its status as an Asian medical hub, and build an exceptional biomedical industry cluster,” said Dr. Schwan. A longstanding member of IBLAC, Dr. Schwan is now in his ninth consecutive year on the council serving in his capacity as a leader in the pharmaceutical industry.

Over the past 30 years, IBLAC has consistently provided a vital platform upon which leading international companies can engage with Shanghai’s mayor and municipal government to share their extensive international experience and make recommendations on how to shape the policies related to the city’s development. The collective knowledge of IBLAC’s members has supported Shanghai by incorporating international vision and a sense of mission into the city’s planning and development process.

Roche, a pioneer in biopharmaceuticals and the global leader in personalized healthcare, has a longstanding history in Shanghai, having established Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Ltd. in 1994. Over the past 24 years, the company has built a full pharmaceutical value chain covering research and development, production and commercialization through massive investments in Shanghai. Today, it provides 18 innovative drugs for the treatment of eight categories of medical conditions in China. Its strong presence and robust portfolio are a testament to the company’s commitment to the China market.

The construction of the Roche Innovation Center Shanghai, representing an investment of 863 million RMB, is progressing smoothly and is expected to be completed in 2019. The new innovation center will focus on early research and development in immunology, inflammation and infectious diseases.

In the light of the further deepening of the reform and opening-up policy, China has been ramping up efforts to reform its healthcare system and accelerating the approval of innovative medicines. The renewal of the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) in 2017 and other positive steps aimed at accelerating the review process for new drugs have demonstrated the Chinese government’s determination to provide quality healthcare for everyone. To date, five targeted therapy drugs made by Roche have been listed in the latest NDRL. This move has significantly reduced the financial burden on cancer patients in China and made a standard treatment available to even more Chinese patients.

“The regulatory environment for the pharmaceutical industry has been evolving over the years, and the progress has laid a solid foundation for Roche Pharma to keep growing in China,” said Hong Chow, General Manager of Roche Pharmaceuticals China. “As a leader in the biopharmaceutical sector and personalized healthcare, Roche has always been committed to ‘doing now what patients need next,’ and is dedicated to helping people live longer and realizing long-term development in Shanghai. Thanks to the full support of the government at all levels, I believe that even more Chinese patients will have access to innovative drugs soon.”

The recent approval of Alecensa, a novel innovative drug used to treat ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer, is a great example of this accelerated process. Launched in August, only 9 months after its release in Europe and the United States, Alecensa has set a new benchmark for the accelerated approval process. Indeed the first prescription in China was issued just 46 days after it was approved, marking an unprecedented step in “China speed,” giving Chinese patients access to the innovative drug and allowing them to benefit from an advanced standard of care.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of China’s reform and open-up policy and indicative of the nation’s commitment to accessibility, the government is holding the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai to further proactively open up its market to the world. As the first state-level expo focused on imports, CIIE is unprecedented in terms of scale and specificity and is being jointly organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Shanghai Municipal People’s Government. The event creates a new platform for inclusive, open cooperation for businesses from both home and abroad. Roche has announced plans for the group to jointly debut its two core businesses at the expo, where it will showcase its scientific breakthroughs in early R&D, integrated diagnosis and treatment solutions, as well as its personalized healthcare offerings.

“We are looking forward to this big event where we hope to showcase our cutting-edge products and technology, as well as our efforts towards integrated diagnosis and treatment, and personalized healthcare. What’s more, we are eager to demonstrate the successful experience of Roche in China to audiences here and around the world,” said Dr. Schwan.


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