MedWatch

Drugmakers in China take aim at pharma’s lucrative cancer fighters

Checkpoint inhibitors have become blockbuster drugs in recent years, but now face new rivals developed in China.

Photo: REITHERA/VIA REUTERS / X80001

A coming wave of Chinese cancer drugs could provide patients with cheaper alternatives to some celebrated and costly therapies, but gaining traction will mean going up against some of the global pharmaceutical industry’s most lucrative and well-protected franchises.

Treatments known as checkpoint inhibitors that free the immune system to attack tumors have become blockbusters in recent years – Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Opdivo are cornerstones of a USD 150bn global market.

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