02 April 2014
SHANGHAI – The Global Fund is deepening its partnership with China by tapping the expertise of Chinese pharmaceutical companies to develop and market drugs that will help defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria all over the world.
To advance a new framework for planning, purchasing and delivering drugs that can prevent and treat these three infectious diseases, the Global Fund and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products convened a conference of Chinese drug suppliers in Shanghai last week.
“China is the world’s leader in making active ingredients for drugs, and we need to work together,” Christopher Game, Chief Procurement Officer at the Global Fund, told the conference. “Our goal is to be able to offer long-term contracts and fair return on investment. We know we can do it.”
The Global Fund disbursed US$3.7 billion in grants to more than 140 countries in 2013, and more than US$2 billion went to procure drugs and other products. In China, the Global Fund hopes to partner with many of the companies represented by the 70 pharmaceutical executives who attended the conference.
In the past, the Global Fund has relied extensively on international agents to procure drugs. By contacting drug makers directly, the Global Fund is moving toward more active engagement to better understand the needs of suppliers in order to increase production, lower costs and eliminate obstacles to long-term relationships.
A few years ago, China was implementing grants from the Global Fund. China took responsibility for its own programs and moved from implementer to donor status, and is now contributing US$30 million to the Global Fund, in addition to finding other ways to work together in partnership with the Global Fund.
Yuan Lin, who heads international cooperation at China’s Food and Drug Administration, told the conference that China is producing high quality pharmaceuticals that can win approval for sale in any country. He added that China is currently taking steps to improve quality assurance of its pharmaceutical products, and strengthening oversight and independence of the drug-approval process.
Officials from the World Health Organization also attended the conference, explaining requirements and answering questions about pre-qualification for drugs made in China. The Global Fund only procures drugs that are pre-qualified by the WHO or another stringent regulatory authority.
Xu Ming, Vice President of China’s Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines and Health Products, pointed to the stunning growth of China’s healthcare industry, where overall production grew to US$353 billion in 2013 from US$23 billion in 2000.
“China has the capacity and the quality to significantly expand its exports,” said Dr. Xu. “We look forward to great cooperation with the Global Fund.”
Ren Minghui, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation at the China National Health and Family Planning Commission, underscored China strong support for providing quality-assured pharmaceuticals at fair prices for export to low and middle income countries in Africa and elsewhere. Dr. Ren, who has represented the Western Pacific region on the Board of the Global Fund, encouraged all parties to explore new partnerships with the Global Fund and other international organizations to improve the overall health status of people globally.
Mr. Game presented the Global Fund’s map for rapid expansion in drug purchasing. Early involvement with manufacturers, improving purchasing capability and contracts, optimizing the supply chain, better planning and scheduling for continuous supply, and faster delivery and payment are all critical factors in a well-organized approach.
An official from the Beijing office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a comprehensive presentation on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR, with updates on guidance and recommendations.