Drug approval pilot plan formally launched in China

Following on from a presentation to the State Council earlier this week, China announced Thursday it will launch a three-year pilot plan to speed up approvals for new drugs.

China's Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) said in a statement on its website that the pilot plan will take place in 10 regions and will allow research organizations and researchers themselves to seek approval for new drugs rather than forcing them to transfer their findings to drug manufacturers who then would be allowed to produce the drugs and reap most of the benefits.

Officials hope the change will spur innovation in pharmaceutical development.

China's drug market is attracting interest from global players who are battling it out with domestic producers for a share of an estimated $185 billion market by 2018, according to a report by IMS Health, Reuters reported.

CFDA head Bi Jingquan

The move is also part of China's plans to reform its entire health care sector to ease crowded hospcitals, souring relations between doctors and patients, corruption and high patient costs, Reuters said.

The pilot plan will take place in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and in southern Guangdong province and Zhejiang. It goes into effect from Nov. 5, the CFDA said, according to Reuters.

The head of the CFDA said earlier this week that the current drug approval process "does not suit the development of the drug making industry" and that the "the quality of some generic drugs lags far behind their international counterparts."

- here's the release from the CFDA (Chinese language)
- and a report from Reuters