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November 20, 2015

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MSD leads the revolution in bio-pharma industry

TO meet the untapped medical demand in China, MSD China is strengthening its efforts and collaborations with partners to tap into huge growth potential in biopharmaceuticals, President Christopher Round said.

Round was speaking at the China Bio-Pharma Executive Summit, where dozens of biopharmaceutical industry leaders discussed industry trends and topics of interests.

China’s biopharmaceutical industry saw an annual revenue growth of 13.95 percent and profit growth of 11.82 percent in 2014. It is expected to touch US$100 billion this year.

In the next 5-10 years, the industry predicts an annual growth pace of 12 percent to 20 percent, attracting many multinational biopharmaceutical companies to China and creating investment opportunities.

By 2020, it is likely to become the second largest biopharmaceutical market in the world behind the US.

The government is also making significant long-term investments in research and development and the State Council included the field of life sciences as one of the seven strategic emerging industries.

Round pointed out that China’s therapeutic biologics market was still emerging, accounting for only 2 percent of the value of the global market. The overall Chinese pharmaceutical market accounts for only 7 percent of the global market.

“As the new round of industry revolution unfolds in front of us, China still has a lot of potential to unlock and that is why it is so important for us to talk about biopharmaceuticals and China, and the biopharmaceutical industry in China,” he told the forum.

“The biopharmaceutical revolution has made the impossible possible in many fronts of drug development, and I assure you that in the near future, we will be continuously amazed by more and innovative biologics to save and improve people’s lives.”

Round cited as example how MSD’s hepatitis B vaccine helped to prevent an epidemic in the late 1980s.

“Biologics are fundamentally changing our society, and this change is relevant to each of us,” he added. “In 1989, MSD signed an agreement with the Chinese government to license our technology to produce the world’s most advanced genetically engineered recombinant hepatitis B vaccine at that time, and this technology transfer enabled a national hepatitis vaccine program that has virtually halted an epidemic in its tracks.”

“MSD is strengthening its focus on biologics as we see a number of opportunities in China, as some very promising early-stage research results and mature biopharmaceutical products surface in this market,” Round said.

Currently, China is one of the top markets for MSD in the world, and is soon to surpass France and Germany, becoming the third largest market only after the US and Japan.

“Research and development is the cornerstone of our industry, and innovation is the fundamental driver of our business and I believe only those that are committed to continuous research and development can survive this revolution,” he said.

MSD established a clinical data management center in Beijing in 2005, and a comprehensive R&D center in Beijing in 2011.

Earlier this year, MSD established a Far East Innovation Center located in Shanghai to search for collaborative and licensing opportunities with local companies and research institutes.

This center was designed to cover the Asia Pacific region.

MSD is also actively looking for therapeutic solutions currently under development to meet local medical needs, and perhaps in the not too distant future, it can bring break-through science originating from China to benefit the world.

Round added that MSD’s mission was not over after having successfully developed an innovative therapy. “We need to work with related stakeholders to make the product accessible to patients in need.”

“The biopharmaceutical revolution is also fundamentally changing our industry’s ecosystem, in which patients, drug developers and makers, and government agencies face new opportunities and new challenges,” he said.

At the same time, MSD is also working with partners to develop biosimilars. Round said “high-quality biosimilars can improve patient’s accessibility to lifesaving biological medicines across the globe, while respecting the intellectual property rights of the originator.”

In the evolving environment, doctors will need to continue to improve their capability to properly take on their increased roles, and drug developers and makers should be their trusted partners, Round added.

The government, doctors, drug developers, and drug manufacturers need to establish interactive platforms to foster information exchange, and provide one another with their perspectives on the newest healthcare solutions, he said.


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