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Genzyme expects new drugs to be introduced in China at quicker pace

GENZYME, a US-based company treating rare diseases and now part of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, said it expects new medicines to be introduced into China at a quicker pace in the future with awareness and knowledge of rare diseases having improved over the years.

"Now China only accounts for less than 1 percent of Genzyme's global sales and we hope to work with government institutions and the health care system to work out a more sustainable way for treating rare diseases," Genzyme chief executive officer David Meeker told Shanghai Daily.

Genzyme entered China in 1999 and now is helping treat about 130 patients across the country with Gaucher’s disease, which is hereditary and causes the abnormal storage of fats in the body. It results in bone fragility, neurological disturbance, anemia and enlargement of the spleen and liver.

Genzyme's research and development facilities have been merged with Sanofi's existing capabilities. Meeker said Sanofi's successful acquisition of Genzyme proved rare diseases can become a sustainable business model.

Currently there are about 7,000 types of rare diseases and Meeker said only about 200 to 300 have treatment.

"Awareness of rare diseases is picking up in China but the greatest challenge we currently have here is patients usually get the wrong diagnosis," Meeker said.

Genzyme has about 20 employees in China dedicated to helping educate patients and medical professionals.


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