With China’s biotech sector on the rise, changes are afoot at the agency tasked with regulating the country’s pipeline of new drugs.
In recent months, China’s version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, known as CFDA, has introduced a host of new regulations meant to make drug makers happy: Companies can now submit certain data from clinical trial sites outside of China. More Chinese hospitals can run trials. Manufacturing need no longer be done in-house. And drug makers weary of waiting for a green light to proceed with a safety study could soon be allowed to go ahead if they don’t hear back from the agency within 60 days.
James Xue, CEO of Beijing-based CANbridge Life Sciences, has had a front-row view of it all. He’s been interacting with CFDA officials on and off for the past 15 years, first in running Genzyme’s China operations and now in steering his own biotech company seeking approval for four oncology drugs. And Xue knows how drug approval works in the U.S., too: Born and raised in China, Xue did his graduate education and started his biopharma career in the U.S. before coming home. He was later selected for Thousand Talents, a Chinese government recruitment program that’s seen both successes and struggles.