While AstraZeneca ($AZN) was winning an approval in China for its heart drug Brilinta yesterday, Eli Lilly ($LLY) chief John Lechleiter happened to be visiting regulators in the Asian powerhouse to make the case for revving up its regulatory review process.
Lechleiter, who's heading up PhRMA this year, is lobbying Chinese officials to shake up their regulatory requirements to make it possible for a shorter timeline on clinical trials. Currently, he tells reporters, China is 8 years behind the pace of major regulatory groups around the world. And as Lilly pushes the diabetes drug dulaglutide and other therapies through late-stage testing in China, quicker trials will translate into growing sales.
"This is a drug lag that I hope we are able to close in the coming years, by working with Chinese authorities to speed up the process of doing clinical trials in China," Lechleiter told Bloomberg.
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Chinese officials haven't exactly been resisting the world's pharma companies, which have been investing billions in the country--the world's fastest-growing pharma market. And chances are Lechleiter, who's planning some new investments of his own, will find open ears for what he has to say.
AstraZeneca, meanwhile, is hoping that its new approval for Brilinta--only 16 months after an FDA OK--will help boost sales for the drug, which have proved to be a bitter disappointment. New CEO Pascal Soriot, though, believes the company can do better when it comes to marketing the drug.