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Director General of Novartis says data quality, lagging behind for innovation, is hiding Chinese M & A

CEO Vas Narasimhan of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis addressed the company's annual press conference in Basel, Switzerland on January 30, 2019. REUTERS / Arnd Viegmann / Files

Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan said that China's acquisition targets for global pharmaceutical groups were scarce due to a small number of new drugs, fears of data quality and the lagging of regulatory standards in the country's most populous country.

Narasimhan added that he expects the forthcoming structural reforms in China, including drug bidding, to free $ 30 billion to switch the local market to generic products of international companies from well-known brands. It aims to make China the 2nd market of Novartis, after the United States.

A 43-year-old American doctor, who spoke at an investor event in Boston, said many Chinese companies focused on so-called "patented quick followers" medicines that mimic medicines that were invented elsewhere, including cancer immunotherapy such as PD-1, monoclonal antibodies and so-called therapy with CAR-T cells, such as Novartis cure for Kimriah cancer of $ 475,000.

While some global pharmaceutical companies can ask Chinese firms to "pull gaps" into their portfolios, Narasimhan says Novartis has yet to see attractive targets.

"We have yet to identify significant fundamental scientific innovations," Narasimhan said. "Obviously, the CAR-T space is the one in which we look very carefully. But I think that the regulatory standards need to be strengthened, and the quality of the data should be increased, in order to actually have comparable data. "

"It's not always clear how long the patient's line of treatment lasts, (or) whether it's really even a patient with a given disease," he added. "I think that these things will be resolved in the period of 5 to 10 years, you will see an increase (M & A), but these are the barriers we see."

He said that Novartis has 14 drugs listed in China, including the best-selling psoriasis and arthritis Cosentik, a development that has helped because Chinese regulators began to allow data collected from patients outside the country to support approval.

Reporting John Miller; installation of Brenna Hughes Neghaivi

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