Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical

Fosun Pharma unveils plan to battle cancer with early diagnosis and cost-effective treatment options

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 10:52pm

Fosun Pharmaceutical, a leading healthcare group on the mainland, plans to focus on early diagnosis and cost-effective treatment of cancer by using the world’s latest technologies such as robotic-assisted medical devices.

Chen Qiyu, chairman of Shanghai-based Fosun Pharma, a subsidiary of the mainland’s largest non-state-owned investment conglomerate Fosun Group, said the company would introduce advanced technologies available in the United States to the Chinese market.

“The US remains the place where medical innovations originate, and China will be the marketplace where the innovative research achievements should be planted,” he told the South China Morning Post in an interview. “As the world’s second-largest healthcare market, China certainly has huge growth potential.”

Healthcare is one of the key areas that billionaire Guo Guangchang, co-founder and chairman of Fosun Group, highlights in line with his ambitions of creating an internationalised business empire to cater to mainlanders’ rising demands for better quality of life.

Guo said in August that Fosun would place a particular emphasis on healthcare because of his belief that “people should live longer”.

Chen said Fosun Pharma would invest in technological innovations, singling out artificial intelligence and robotic-assisted medical services as bright spots that could enhance the company’s competitiveness.

“To shed light on innovation, we believe that precision medicine and artificial intelligence plays a vital role in a medical company’s development,” he added. “We want to strengthen our research and development on medicine and treatment for cancer.”

Late in 2016, Fosun Pharma established a Shanghai-based US$100 million joint venture with US technology company Intuitive Surgical to research, develop, manufacture and sell products targeting early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in the world.

Fosun Pharma has been the Chinese distributor for the da Vinci surgical systems made by Intuitive Surgical since 2011. It features a robotic surgical system designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach.

The system provides surgeons with superior visualisation, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and ergonomic comfort.

Cancer is a leading cause of death in China owing to unhealthy food, pollution and smoking.

A study by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences estimated that 4.3 million new cancer cases were diagnosed on the mainland in 2015. The disease was linked to 2.8 million deaths that year.

“We hope to offer first-class medical services which are affordable to Chinese patients,” Chen said.

In August Fosun Pharma announced it would pay US$1.26 billion to buy an 86 per cent stake in Gland Pharma, an Indian manufacturer of generic injectable pharmaceutical products.

Beijing has been striving to transform the country’s medical system towards a new model driven by improved medical services, less reliant on drug sales.

Global pharmaceutical companies are speeding up development of medical products and services targeting chronic diseases prevalent in China.

In recent times, criticism has been directed at the mainland’s poor track record on early screening for cancer, as many patients must spend millions of yuan on treatment once the diseases has progressed.

Fosun Pharma engages in a complete chain of healthcare businesses which encompass drug development, drug research, medical devices and hospital services.

In 2015, the company reported net profit of 2.46 billion yuan, up 16.4 per cent from a year earlier.

For the first three quarters of 2016, the company reported profit of 2.18 billion yuan, 15.1 per cent more than the same period in 2015.