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Roche: Building Shanghai into world’s third largest strategic center Release date: 2018-11-02

Today’s guest:

Zhou Hong, General Manager of Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.


Q: Roche had access to the Chinese market in 1994. How has Roche’s business developed over the past 24 years?

A: Roche had, in fact, an engagement with China as early as 1926, and it has been a pioneer across numerous aspects of China’s pharmaceutical industry. In 1994, Roche established the first joint venture—Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., which became the first foreign-owned company setting up shop in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. In 2004, Roche R&D Center (China) Ltd. was established as Roche’s first R&D center located in a developing country. In 2007, Roche’s drug research and development China center was founded in Shanghai, making Roche the first multinational pharmaceutical enterprise forming a complete pharmaceutical value industrial chain in China.

In recent years, the profound reforms in the regulation of China’s pharmaceutical industry have laid a solid foundation for Roche to achieve sustained development in China. Currently, Roche boasts 17 categories of products in China, covering 8 therapeutic areas. It is a market leader in key fields like antineoplastics, antivirals and transplants. In July 2017, Roche’s four targeted drugs, namely Mabthera®, Herceptin®, Avastin® and Tarceva®, were included in the new medicines list covered by national basic medical insurance, benefiting more Chinese patients.

Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Shanghai Roche) has not only made joint efforts with the Chinese government, medical institutions and non-governmental organizations to help more cancer patients have access to innovative medicines and targeted drugs, but it has also devoted itself to the research, development and innovation of drugs in China.

In 2016, the construction of the Roche Innovation Center Shanghai commenced in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park with an additional investment of 863 million yuan from Roche’s headquarters, pacing Shanghai to become Roche’s third global strategic center.

After completion, the Roche Innovation Center Shanghai will focus on the research and early development of innovative drugs across aspects such as immunity, inflammation and anti-infectious disease, so as to meet the demands of patients in China and around the world. Shanghai Roche has been included in Roche’s global clinical drug trials system by default, where it participates in multi-regional clinical trials of new drugs.

The development of an enterprise relies on the cultivation of its talent and the construction of an ecosystem for innovation. Shanghai Roche has been devoted to fostering talent in the field of medicine. In 2016, Shanghai Roche launched the Zhangjiang Innovative Talent Program, and partnered with top universities and local governments to introduce simulated case teaching of drug lifecycle management. In 2017, Shanghai Roche and Fudan University jointly launched an interaction-based innovative practicum for talent in the pharmaceuticals industry — “R U NEXT”.

Shanghai Roche is implementing its long-term commitment to China through actions.

Q: Does the development of Roche in China reflect the development trend of China’s healthcare industry to a certain degree?

A: Through 24 years of development in China, Roche has witnessed and participated in the development of China’s healthcare industry. In recent years, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the healthcare sector, and it also proposed the objective to increase the five-year survival rate of cancer patients by 15 percent in the Healthy China 2030 Blueprint.

With abundant innovative drugs, Roche is willing to cooperate with the Chinese government to accelerate the launch of innovative drugs in the Chinese market, so as to enable cancer patients in China to immediately receive innovative drugs and targeted treatments like those who live in Europe and the United States.

The concerns of the Chinese government about drug quality are increasing. For example, the evaluation of the quality and efficacy of generic drugs has been issued to further improve the quality of China’s generic drugs and the overall development of the pharmaceutical industry, as well as to ensure that the drugs used by patients are safe and effective. Roche has paid close attention to the supervision and management of the quality of its drugs, which has resulted in the stable development of Roche in the bio-pharmaceutical industry of China.

In 2017, China Food and Drug Administration started to solicit opinion for adjusting the registration of imported drugs, which demonstrated that the Chinese government was determined to accelerate the launch of innovative drugs. Its policy will promote multinational pharmaceutical companies to invest in the R&D of innovative drugs, accelerate the launching of innovative drugs in the Chinese market and obtain more innovative drugs from overseas, so as to benefit Chinese patients.

Zelboraf®, a kind of targeted drug for the treatment of malignant melanoma, was approved to be launched two years in advance, and the approval of a second-generation drug for the treatment of anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer was also prioritized. We hope that the drug will soon be used by Chinese patients.

Moreover, the policies that reduce the value-added tax for the production and import of anticancer drugs introduced by the Chinese government shows that the government is not only considering the active demands of patients for innovative drugs, but also sparing no effort to promote the reform of the country’s medical and healthcare systems. We believe that under the active guidance and overall coordination of the Chinese government, the pharmaceutical industry of China will develop in a healthier direction and benefit Chinese patients in the longer run.

Q: We have learned that Roche is among the first foreign companies that have confirmed participation in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), and it is also the exhibitor with the largest booth in the Medical Equipment & Medical Care Products exhibition. How does Roche view the theme of CIIE?

A: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. The CIIE is a significant action of the Chinese government to firmly support trade liberalization and economic globalization as well as actively open its market to the world. Premier Li Keqiang indicated during his visit to Shanghai Roche in April 2018 that the opening-up policy was a strategy for developing China as well as an action taken to benefit people. He also indicated that multinational companies played an important role in expanding the country’s opening-up.

That’s the reason why Roche has been increasing its investment in R&D for innovative drugs in China to benefit more patients. Roche believes that innovation has no borders. Instead of being concerned about the origin of innovation, Roche focuses on how to make innovative products benefit more Chinese patients and how to establish a larger sustainable ecosystem for innovation.

The large number of exhibitors reflects the profound influence of the first CIIE. The expo will be a perfect platform to “strengthen opening-up and promote exchange”, and Roche is looking forward to this grand event to be held in November. We hope that by participating in the CIIE, Roche will be able to expand its Chinese market, improve the innovation capability of the bio-pharmaceutical industry and fulfill the diversified needs of different people. This is in line with Roche’s development strategy in China.

Q: What are the latest products or new ideas that Roche will exhibit at the CIIE?

A: This will be the first time for Shanghai Roche and Roche-Diagnostics to jointly participate in an exhibition in China. We will present the cutting-edge technology of early development, full-lifecycle treatment ideas with integrated diagnosis and treatment, as well as innovative solutions for personalized medicine.

As the world’s leading biotechnology company, Roche regards personalized medicine as a core strategy in 2006. By virtue of its professional experience and systematic cooperation with the bio-pharmaceutical sector and the diagnostics sector in the field of molecular biology, Roche boasts a unique advantage in the innovation of personalized medicine.

Roche is ushering in a new era of personalized medicine which will help patients receive targeted healthcare and treatment. We use valuable data to solve problems to ensure the depth, width and high-quality of data. Roche welcomes visitors to find more highlights at our exhibition booth during the CIIE.

Q: Recently, China International Import Expo Bureau said the CIIE will be a bridge of communication between foreign pharmaceutical exhibitors and the Chinese government, creating opportunities for importing more foreign drugs. What are Roche’s expectations in this regard? Do you have any advice based on previous experience?

A: The CIIE establishes a platform and provides an opportunity for multinational pharmaceutical companies to conduct exchanges and cooperation with governments. In recent years, both the central and local governments have further raised the level of China’s opening-up, in which multinational enterprises have also played an important role.

As a multinational bio-pharmaceutical enterprise, Roche firmly supports and pays close attention to the policies issued by the government, and it operates its business according to the relevant rules and requirements. With the idea of putting patients’ demands at first, Roche will actively support the national policies and produce accessible and affordable drugs. We believe that under the active guidance and overall coordination of the Chinese government, the pharmaceutical industry of China will develop in a healthier direction and benefit Chinese patients.

As one of the pillar industries of innovation, the development of biomedicine will continue to attract resources for innovation around the world to Shanghai. Since Pudong is the innovation center of Shanghai, we think that Shanghai can make full use of its advantages to vigorously promote the development of the biomedical industry, such as encouraging the development of basic medical research and the early R&D of drugs, making the cultivation and introduction of talent the driving force of innovative industries, and creating an innovative environment and an entrepreneurial atmosphere.

We hope that more policies concerning medicine will be issued and implemented in China to achieve significant development of the industry.

Q: As you mentioned earlier, Roche will build its Shanghai center into its third largest strategic center worldwide. Will the CIIE help Roche achieve this goal? How will it help?

A: The CIIE shows the sincerity of China to further open its market to the world, and it also provides a public platform for international trade. I think the CIIE will promote the trade between multinational enterprises, and optimize the business environment and enhance the influence of Shanghai worldwide through people-to-people communication and public diplomacy.

Shanghai is of great significance to the development of Roche. Therefore, Roche intends to build Shanghai into its third largest strategic center, after Basel and San Francisco, to improve the value chain of the whole industry in line with international standards, so as to promote the R&D and innovation of China’s pharmaceutical industry and fulfill the demands of patients in China and around the world.

Through the platform of the CIIE, Roche will have a better future in Shanghai and China, helping the country transform from “Made in China” to “Smart Manufacturing in China”.