China renews consolidation drive for drug manufacture, wants TCM push

China's leadership renewed a drive to winnow out bad quality drug manufacturers and improve safety as part of a State Council meeting that updated on an ambitious program of healthcare reforms calling for access to newer therapies and greater use of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM).

The Feb. 14 meeting brought up the need for China to provide medicine that patients were seeking elsewhere, according to two statements in English published by the State Council, the country's cabinet, and a separate note by the China FDA.

"Some innovative medicines such as cancer-fighting drugs are not accessible in China, and patients have to resort to searching for overseas agents for cheap purchases in order to cut expenses," one of the statements said.

The meeting also discussed efforts to loosen restrictions on access to cutting-edge therapies. For instance, China has yet to approve a modern hepatitis C drug though it is in talks with Gilead Sciences ($GILD) on pricing for Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

At the same time, a statistic shared in the statement suggests the traditional Chinese medicine manufacturing industry to be worth around CNY500 billion ($7.6 billion).

China developed its first modern medicine, from a TCM compound, artemisinin, work that won Tu Youyou a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine last year, the first Chinese citizen to win in the sciences,

The State Council also plans to strengthen safety measures and tracking systems for the better supervision of quality of drugs, as well as looking into industry funding as a way to quicken the industrialization of drugs.

Other sections under reform included procedures for speeding up urgent clinical drugs and equipment. The CFDA went through 9,394 clinical trial and drug applications in 2015, almost double the amount of the previous year.

- here's the statement from the State Council
- and a release from the China FDA (Chinese language)
- and a State Council statement on TCM

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