China’s Drug Addiction – Kathleen Kingsbury
As an oncologist, Dr. Jiang Zefei is trained to save lives. Working in China’s mediocre health system, this is rarely an easy task. Patients typically cannot afford basic care, and up-to-date medicine often isn’t even available. Recently, though, Jiang has gained an unexpected helping hand: global clinical drug trials.
Lured by immense patient populations ailing from both chronic and infectious diseases, Big Pharma has turned to China to test its newest products. Jiang’s cancer patients are the beneficiaries. “They’re getting advanced care without worrying about the price,” says Jiang, a staff physician at Beijing’s No. 307 Hospital. “It’s the difference between life and death.”
Asia has become the next frontier for pharmaceutical firms desperate to find their next blockbuster drug while keeping research costs low. In 2006, big drug companies doubled R&D investment in China and India over the previous year, to $2.2 billion. Nearly all of that went into China, thanks to generous government support and strong infrastructure. Beijing wants to attract more than 2% of the world’s R&D budget, or about $10 billion, by 2010. [Full Text]