Start-ups such as Boston-based Biofourmis have partnered with local health care platforms like Jianke, giving the company access to its vast customer base
China and other emerging markets lead the world in the use of digital health technologies, according to a survey commissioned by Philips.
Healthcare professionals in China are more likely to recommend patients use technologies to self-track blood pressure and other health indicators than their peers in the West.
The Chinese healthcare sector's embrace of self-monitoring has contributed to the country becoming the biggest wearables market. Similar trends in other countries Philips classes as digital forerunners, such as India and Saudi Arabia, are supporting above-average growth.
For a long time, Western medtech companies found a ready market for their devices in China among a top-of-the-pyramid market segment that was large in absolute terms, though small relative to the size of the Chinese population. Featuring wealthy, Western-oriented Chinese patients and physicians who were often trained in the West, this market segment preferred devices developed in the West and sold by Western companies because they were perceived to be of higher quality than anything available from local companies.
With Hong Kong now established as the world’s second largest funding hub for biotech, at this week’s BIO 2019 conference in Philadelphia, the HKEX’s Michael Chan outlined some of the successes that the Hong Kong exchange has already seen and the exciting and diverse future listings in the pipeline.
China’s rapidly-growing biotech sector is increasingly hungry for preclinical drug candidates to commercialise in China, and Chinese companies are spending top dollar for cutting-edge technology from the US and UK. Despite mounting US-China tensions in the life sciences, the demand remains strong for cross-border licensing deals, which are raising drug candidate price tags and providing a new source of cash flow to Western biotechs.
Chronic disease management startup Livongo Health has moved to launch an initial public offering, filing a form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. Founded in 2014, the digital health platform primarily targets diabetes patients, but has since added programs for hypertension, weight management, and through its January acquisition of myStrength, behavioral health.
With a population of 1.4 billion, China is a market that most medtech companies can't afford to ignore. However, differences in population types (urban versus rural), the government's role in healthcare expansion and a multi-tiered distribution system that is undergoing reform make navigating the Chinese market a challenge.
So, why should pharma care about digital therapeutics? This was just one of the questions posed to a panel of digital therapeutics experts during the 2018 CNS Summit. Hailing from Akili Interactive Labs, Applied VR, Dthera Sciences, Novartis, Otsuka, and Pear Therapeutics, their collective backgrounds are impressive (i.e., physicians and Ph.D.s) with diverse experiences that include biotech, clinical research, FDA, and pharma (i.e., big, rare disease, small, and specialty). Just as impressive are some of the therapeutic areas in which they are working to find (or have found) digital treatments, either as mono or adjunctive therapies.
In 2006, 26-year-old Frank Wang started up DJI in a dorm room at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. The legend goes that Frank’s father had given him an expensive remote-controlled model helicopter for doing well in school. When the helicopter predictably crashed shortly after, Wang became determined to build a better controller. As part of his graduate thesis, he perfected an electronics flight controller, a critical element of drone technology. Today, Shenzhen-based DJI, of which one of us is a board member, holds a global market share of 70% in consumer drones
Statistics on leadership in the life sciences industry indicate a disturbing trend for women. They enter the industry in equal proportion to men but account for just 24 percent of C-suite positions and about 14 percent of board-level positions. That’s according to a 2017 report by The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), based on surveys of 850 professionals and 70 companies within the state. Similarly, Women in the Workplace 2017, a national report based on surveys of more than 70,000 employees and 222 companies by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, found 52 percent of entry-level positions at pharmaceutical and medical products companies are filled by women, and 22 percent of C-suite positions are filled by them. The MassBio report says the number for biotech boards is probably closer to 10 percent. GSK’s Emma Walmsley made headlines in 2017 when she was named Big Pharma’s first female CEO – and was given a pay package worth 25 percent less than her predecessor’s.
Three prominent Chinese executives discuss the progress of local companies in drug innovation and the evolving regulatory environment.
China has stepped up investment in drug innovation in recent years, both in basic research and in industry research and development. China’s pharmaceutical market is the second largest worldwide, after that of the United States, reaching $115 billion in sales in 2015. Further growth is on the way. China faces mounting medical needs—for example, it has 114 million diabetic patients and more than 700,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year. At the same time, the ongoing reform of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) aims to accelerate the pace of pharmaceutical development in the country.
ANbridge Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company developing Western drug candidates in China and North Asia, announced that it strengthened the executive management team with the appointment of May Orfali, MD, as Chief Medical Officer, on July 23, 2018. Dr. Orfali replaced Dr. Mark Goldberg, who was acting as interim Chief Medical Officer.
Taiwan sits, along with its smaller counterparts, Singapore and Hong Kong, as one of the gateway countries to running a clinical trial in China. Although Hong Kong’s regulatory ties are more formalized with China, than Taiwan, Taiwan has the right environment and population to make the possibility of greater regulatory cohesion with its giant neighbour, not such a distant possibility, representing a huge opportunity for sponsors looking to break into the China market at some point.
The Chinese government has signalled its commitment to ensuring the quality of clinical trials conducted in China. In 2015, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced a plan to protect data integrity, requesting that trial applicants inspect their own data. The government also initiated inspections of research data by CFDA officials. This plan was not only limited to self-inspection by researchers. Instead, it provides a chance for researchers to withdraw applications to the CFDA without further punishment, or a time window in which to make amendments to the quality of the data.
Increasingly, physicians’ every action and outcome is measured and reported. The data-gathering process can be frustrating, and many clinicians are growing skeptical of its clinical value. For them, outcomes measurement may seem like just another reimbursement requirement or process compliance task. However, measuring patient-reported outcomes (PROs) — patients’ own accounting of their symptoms, functional status, and quality of life — can and should be a clinical tool.