Skip to Main Content

A new film about leukemia drugs opened in Chinese theaters last week, and it’s already become a blockbuster hit. The movie, called “Dying to Survive,” brought in $232 million in its first five days, a pace that gives it a chance to become China’s biggest-ever box-office success.

The dark comedy centers around a Chinese man who illegally smuggles cheap generic leukemia drugs from India to sell to Chinese patients who can’t afford the medication available through official channels — a pricey drug called Glinic sold by a greedy Swiss pharma company. Sound familiar?


It’s a thinly veiled reference to Novartis’s leukemia drug Gleevec. The film, after all, is based on the true story of a Chinese cancer patient who was arrested for selling counterfeit drugs that he located because he could not afford Gleevec, which at the time was not covered by China’s government health system.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


Comments are closed.