AstraZeneca creates joint venture Dizal Pharmaceutical to develop new drugs in China

AstraZeneca reported Monday the formation of a joint venture with the Chinese Future Industry Investment Fund (FIIF) to form an equally owned company in China called Dizal Pharmaceutical to bring innovative new drugs to patients in the country faster. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said "we aim to accelerate the local discovery and development of innovative, affordable medicines for patients in China and around the world."

Dizal Pharmaceutical, which will be led by Xiaolin Zhang, previously head of AstraZeneca's Innovation Center China (ICC), will hold exclusive rights to develop and commercialise three potential medicines currently in preclinical development from the UK company's pipeline in its main therapy areas of oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and respiratory.

The joint venture, which will incorporate the scientific and technical capabilities of the ICC, will also be able to initiate new clinical programmes, while all employees at the ICC will be invited to join Dizal Pharmaceutical. Meanwhile, FIIF will provide funding and expertise concerning the establishment of strategic partnerships in the country.

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Although the agreement does not include an upfront payment, an AstraZeneca spokesperson indicated that the drugmaker will likely receive income from the venture in the form of a dividend as new products reach the market. AstraZeneca recorded about $2.1 billion in Chinese revenue over the first nine months of 2017.

Last month, China's State Council said that under new rules designed to speed the approval of drugs, data from clinical studies conducted outside the country can be used to support marketing applications for medicines. The proposal removes the need for companies to undertake additional trials in China.

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