China plans public health push on cancer, wants to expand screening

China plans a public health campaign on cancer that over the next three years will see screening for early detection expanded by nearly one-third, spur new drug development and direct focus on prevention that covers smoking, China Daily reported.

In a release from the National Health and Family Planning Commission, National Development and Reform Commission, and other government departments, China said around 2 million people die of cancer annually and 3 million new cases are added.

The flood of cancer patients also stretches hospitals thin, as newer drugs in wide use in other markets are not quickly approved by the China FDA and treatment options vary greatly, while lifestyle change rapidly adds to the caseloads.

"Cancer now claims many lives in China and has many causes, such as accelerated aging, environmental pollution, and unhealthy lifestyle, and has seen an increase in recent years," the NHFPC said in the release. "To date, 235 Chinese out of 100,000 have cancer, with 144 dying from it. So, cancer has become one of the major public health problems in China."

Among efforts to be implemented in the next three years are greater efforts to register cancer patients clinically and education programs to aid cancer prevention--particularly related to smoking, which is widespread.

Support for the development of newer therapies from local companies at affordable costs is also a goal, including expanded medical insurance coverage.

China has seen a spate of oncology candidate licensing deals this year, with local and multinational firms looking to crack the clinical trial and regulatory codes in China. A notable one took place in March, as Eli Lilly ($LLY) signed a $456 million partnership with China's Innovent Biologics to collaborate in oncology, marking a second such venture.

And last month, China FDA said investigational new drug applications for oncology in China may see a 60-day deadline for a thumbs up, or down, placing the country on a path already followed by Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea in Asia for quick early-stage decisions.

- here's the China Daily story
- and the NHFPC report