US, China urged to collaborate on cancer drugs through new initiative


Global drugmakers, regulators and scientists are teaming up to push the United States and China to cooperate in research to speed up the process of developing new cancer drugs through some form of “Ping-pong diplomacy”.

The Bloomberg International Cancer Coalition will be launched in Singapore later this month to create an organization through which the two countries can collaborate, despite recriminations and the division between the superpowers during the pandemic.

By tapping into the world’s two largest cancer patient populations, the coalition aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes to collect enough data to prove that a new drug is safe and effective. Concrete goals include the creation of standards on how patients are selected for newer, more suitable cancer drugs.

The coalition includes representatives from Western pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Amgen, and Chinese drug makers including Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, BeiGene, Innovent Biologics and Zai Lab, as well as leading academics in the United States. and in China. But it does not yet include any Chinese officials or the regulator.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who helps guide the effort in his role as head of the Asia Society, compared it to the 1970s attempt to unfreeze U.S.-China relations using Table tennis.

“The relationship between the United States and China has gotten so bad that we at the Asia Society felt that cancer treatment trials may well become the next iteration of ping-pong diplomacy, to postpone this relationship on track, “he said.

Rudd added that the coalition should overcome concerns about intellectual property, especially the protection of genetic codes.

The coalition will have to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China. A U.S. intelligence agency recently said it was plausible the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab by accident. China did not cooperate with the investigation and other US agencies do not agree.

“Covid should have represented the classic case study of a global public good, which should have triumphed over the normal politics and geopolitics of a strained political relationship,” Rudd said. “In fact, it did the opposite: it compounded a pre-existing difficulty between Beijing and Washington rather than providing the venues to engage in serious collaborative research programs combined.”

The coalition plans to use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Orbis Project, where the regulator works with peers in countries like Canada, Australia and Switzerland, as a model to facilitate the conduct of trials. cross-border clinics and simplify regulatory submissions.

Lumykras, a drug produced by US biotech company Amgen, has been approved in the UK using the Orbis project. Bob Li, oncologist at the US Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center, said he hopes to replicate the successful global trial for Lumykras that has reduced the time to approval of innovative cancer treatment targeting the KRAS mutation difficult to deal with from 15 years to only Three.

He also said the rapid recruitment of patients in China had helped AstraZeneca’s lung cancer drug Tagrisso, which targets a mutation more often found in tumors in Asian women, to develop in record time.

“Due to the large cancer patient population in China, we have the ability to get things done very quickly. ”

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