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Expo boosts global opening-up, cooperation

By Leon Wang (chinadaily.com.cn)Updated: 2022-10-31


Leon Wang (middle) is at the opening ceremony of the second CIIE. [Photo/CIIE Bureau]

AstraZeneca will be participating in the upcoming CIIE and the Hongqiao International Economic Forum for the fifth consecutive time. Over the past years, the company has experienced growth in the Chinese market, and I have witnessed the expo's strong spillover effects and the forum's important role in boosting global opening-up and cooperation.

During the past four Hongqiao Forums, we talked with people from different sectors about many major issues and strengthened global cooperation to achieve mutual benefits. At a sub-forum themed on artificial intelligence (AI) and innovative development in 2019, AstraZeneca's chief executive officer Pascal Soriot proposed the building of a connected worldwide medical innovation system.

Though years of efforts and being powered by advanced technologies such as AI, the system, which mainly comprises the China Commercial Innovation Center (CCiC), the International Life Sciences Innovation Campus (iCampus), and the AstraZeneca-CICC Healthcare Industrial Fund, is beginning to take shape.

As of the end of 2021, the CCiC had supported its partners to develop several solutions that integrate disease management and treatment. These solutions have been implemented in thousands of hospitals in China and some of them were even introduced to other countries. More than 60 Chinese and foreign companies had joined iCampus, while the fund had raised 2.2 billion yuan ($303.72 million) and invested in 11 companies.

In August, we cooperated with the Wuxi National Hi-tech District and Shanghai Zhizhong Medical Technology Co to build a metabolic disease-related industrial park MCampus. The park aims to accommodate 50 companies in the following five years.

As a member company of the Hongqiao Forum, AstraZeneca has taken action to showcase that the forum is an international public good. As of this June, we had supplied 3 billion doses of vaccine to over 180 countries. We have authorized WuXi Biologics to provide concentrate for our COVID-19 vaccines, and the active ingredients in about half of the vaccines we had provided to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to the vaccines, by the end of 2021 were produced by WuXi Biologics. We also signed an agreement with the company in August regarding the local production of a COVID-19 neutralizing antibody drug.


AstraZeneca's booth at the CIIE. [Photo/CIIE Bureau]

AstraZeneca has introduced six innovative drugs to China through the CIIE to offer Chinese patients more options. Among them is Fluimucil, a treatment for respiratory problems which was displayed at the inaugural CIIE in 2018. More than $100 million worth of the drugs have been imported to hundreds of China's hospitals to date.

Chinese innovations have also benefited people from across the world. We launched Roxadustat, a drug for anemia caused by chronic kidney disease developed in China, in 2018, and debuted Orpathys, an antitumor treatment developed by AstraZeneca and Chinese company Shanghai Hutchison Pharmaceuticals, during the fourth CIIE. Orpathys has been approved in China and we are working on its clinical research so that it can enter other countries and regions.

AstraZeneca has been increasing its investments in China. At the second CIIE, we cooperated with the Shanghai government to upgrade our research and development platform in the city into one of our global research and development centers. Our China R&D team is currently following more than 150 projects.

AstraZeneca now has its China headquarters in Shanghai and six regional headquarters in Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Wuxi and Qingdao. We will continue to leverage the expo and the Hongqiao Forum to establish new partnerships and push the boundaries of the healthcare industry.

The author is the global executive vice-president of AstraZeneca and president of the company's China business.

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