UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has launched an R&D centre in Shanghai, China.
The company said GSK R&D China would concentrate its research efforts on neurodegeneration to discover novel therapies for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The senior vice-president will be neurologist Prof Jingwu Zang, previously director of Shanghai’s Institute of Health Sciences. He will lead scientific activities and staff recruitment.
The group anticipates that over the next decade GSK R&D China will develop into one of the larger R&D facilities within GSK, directing global R&D efforts within its flagship therapeutic area.
GSK R&D chairman Dr Moncef Slaoui said: “We are entering an exciting period of expansion for our R&D organisation, as it builds on the strength of the superb science now being conducted in China. We intend to be part of a future in which the phrase ‘discovered in China’ is heard as often as ‘made in China’ is heard today.”
Shanghai is fast becoming an attractive base for multinational pharmaceutical R&D, not least because of the research services it has to offer. Recently it was announced that three local contract research organisations with international management experience have merged to form the Contract Research Organisation Service Alliance (CROSA) at Shanghai’s Zhangjiang HiTech Park.
CROSA member groups noted that the presence at the Zhangjiang site of so many contract research organisations, as well as pharmaceutical multinationals such as Roche and Novartis, had helped the science park develop into the most important base for biopharmaceutical CROs in China.
Looking towards the east in general, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers says the drug industry in Asia is looking to position itself at the centre of the global market, and most drugmakers in the region expect this shift to happen pretty quickly.
PwC said 58% of companies it surveyed, both domestic and multinational, “believe the centre of gravity of the global pharmaceutical market will be in Asia rather than North America and Europe in the near future”. PwC Asia-Pacific advisory leader Matthew Wyborn said: “Not surprisingly, China and India head the list of target countries for expansion, with Singapore and South Korea next in the sights of multinational companies.”
And Li Wang of consultancy firm Kline & Co claimed last year: “By 2010, China is predicted to be the fifth-largest pharmaceutical market in the world.”