Xian-Ping Lu quit his job as research director at a multinational drug company in the United States to be the co-founder of a biotech company in his native land China. The bet that lasted more than 14 years is finally giving results. Shenzhen Chipscreen Bioscreens’ maiden therapy carried for a rare type of cancer for the lymph node hit the Chinese market in February.
The move of veterans to quit jobs with multinational companies for Chinese startups shows the increasing optimism in the drug industry. The initiative that is encouraged by the Chinese government is a move towards going ahead of generic drugs and those that are developed in the western countries.
Chidamide, also known as Epidaza is developed from start to end in China. The medicine is the first in China to be approved for sale, and only fourth in a new class of drugs approved globally. Dr Lu estimated the cost of developing the drug to be US$70 million, which is about one-tenth if it was developed in the United States.
The development of the drug has set a good example for innovation that is potentially possible in China. China is expected to spend over US$$107 billion on pharmaceuticals which was US$26 billion in 2007. China is expected to become the second largest manufacturer of drugs, following the U.S. by 2020.
China has the advantage of having infrastructure labs, leading scientists and investors in great numbers as per the findings of a market research firm.