14 Oct 2009 11:01

Servier Laboratories aiming high in China's innovative drug market - Servier China GM

Thirty years after Servier Laboratories first entered the Chinese market, we spoke to Pony Lu, general manager of Servier China, on the company's growth opportunities and development strategy in the years to come.

By Yu Chenxi

Shanghai. October 14. INTERFAX-CHINA - Servier Laboratories aims to increase research and development (R & D) investment in China and to deepen collaboration with Chinese medical research institutions over the next five years, Pony Lu, general manager of Servier China, recently told Interfax.

Established in France in 1954, Servier Laboratories is currently the largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company in France with operations in 140 countries. In China, Servier Laboratories has two subsidiaries, namely Servier (Tianjin) Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and Servier (Beijing) Pharmaceutical R & D Co. Ltd.

"In China, our R & D is focused on molecular drugs derived from traditional Chinese medicines," Lu said.

Each year, Servier Laboratories invests 25 percent of its annual sales revenue into R & D, which is almost double the amount of resources other major pharmaceutical companies devote to R & D. To date, Servier Laboratories has introduced 13 types of innovative drugs used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and neuropsychiatric disorders into the Chinese market.

Lu pointed out that Servier Laboratories will be accelerating the introduction of mature innovative products into China over the next five years, including increasing investment towards its production facilities in Tianjin in northern China.

"Two of the mature innovative drugs we will produce and market in China within the next two years are strontium ranelate, an osteoporosis drug marketed under the Osseor brand, as well as a coronary heart disease drug, capable of relieving disease symptoms by lowering heart rate," Lu said.

According to Lu, the Tianjin production facilities are expected to become the production base for drugs sold in six Asian countries including South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore, though the biggest challenge at the moment is to ensure that the drugs produced meet the varying quality standards in different countries.

With regards to cooperating with local medical research institutions, Servier China has maintained close relations with the Chinese Medical Association for 30 years and since 2004, the company has been working with Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Shanghai Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry, Zhejiang University and Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Lu noted that Servier China will be working towards expanding its number of R & D partners in the next five years.

In 2008, Servier China's total sales revenue reached RMB 1 billion ($146.41 million), accounting for approximately 3 percent of Servier Laboratories' total global revenue.