Keytruda, a cancer immunotherapy drug made by Merck & Co., became the first imported drug to be approved for use in China. The drug’s quick approval is part of a push to attract more international health care patients to the country, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The pilot program will be used in a cancer hospital in the Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone in Hainan. The zone was established in China in 2013 and sets rules on foreign investment, including the decision to fast-track approvals for new drugs and medical devices. It is designed to attract Chinese patients that may travel to Hong Kong or Macau for drugs that have not yet been approved in China.
The drug gained import approval from the China Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, and the hospital also has plans to import more foreign cancer drugs, according to an announcement. It was previously approved in the United States for treating cancers, such as melanoma and certain types of lung cancer.
The decision to fast-track Merck’s drug, according to reports, will give Merck an apparent advantage over competitor Bristol-Myers Squibb. That company is currently seeking approval for rival medication Opdivo from Chinese regulators.
To learn more about patients traveling across borders to receive medical treatment, check out the upcoming issue of the Global Citizen Index, which will focus on international health care.
The inaugural issue of the index, which focuses on the economic impact of individuals who are experienced travelers and have the wealth to support the pursuit of cross-border education, health care and wellness and other experiences for them and their family members outside of their home countries, was released in July. It profiled international students studying at American colleges and universities.
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About The Index
The PYMNTS.com Global Citizen Index™, a Flywire collaboration, focuses on the economic impact of Global Citizens, individuals who typically are experienced international travelers and have the wealth or discretionary income to support the pursuit of personal priorities, including cross-border education, health care and wellness for themselves and their family members or other experiences outside of their home countries.