As China positions itself as a major global player in the international biotechnology arena, it has included biotechnology as one of the seven strategic priorities for scientific and technological development in its 12th Five-year Plan.  During the 2012 BIO International Convention, a full-day of program has been devoted to China and will target both Chinese and Western delegations.

As part of China Day, BIO explores questions about the changing landscape for innovation, healthcare reform, global regulatory trends and one of the most pressing questions for many attendees:  What is the right way to partner in China?  Speakers with decades of experience conducting business in the Chinese life sciences sector, such as George Baeder, Partner at Monitor Group Asia, and Li Chen, President and CEO of Hua Medicine, help guide discussions.

In another session, the World Health Organization (WHO) talked about the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework, which established requirements related to the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits.  The WHO is now working to implement the PIP Framework internationally.  A panel today, comprised of experts from the WHO and its Member States, the U.S. government, and large and small vaccine manufacturers and developers, discussed implementation progress to date and the broad implications of the Framework for vaccine manufacturers globally.

Recognizing the role of industry as an important contributor to technology innovation and transfer in addressing the challenges of pandemic influenza preparedness and response,

1. ADOPTS, in accordance with Article 23 of the WHO Constitution, the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, including its annexes;

2. URGES Member States: (1) to implement the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework; (2) to support actively the wide implementation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, and (3) to consider providing adequate resources for its implementation;

3. CALLS UPON relevant stakeholders to give priority to implementing the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework;

4. REQUESTS the Director-General, in consultation with the Advisory Group: (1) to implement the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework; (2) to monitor and review the operation of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework and all of its components, in accordance with its provisions; (3) to report, on a biennial basis, to the World Health Assembly through the Executive Board on progress in the implementation of this resolution. Tenth plenary meeting, 24 May 2011 A64/VR/10

Meanwhile, smaller biotech’s seem to be stepping up to fill the gap of moving products into treatments and diagnostics for neglected diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and dengue fever, which because they typically affect impoverished third-world countries have been considered noncommercial markets.

According to David Steinmiller, COO of OPKO Diagnostics LLC of Woburn, part of the challenge is that there is little to no money to be made in neglected diseases, and there is a high cost to get regulatory approvals and to protect intellectual property in multiple countries.

Steinmiller made his comments at a panel centered on a new report by BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) on participation of small- to medium-sized biotech companies in neglected diseases.

The report found that 134 biotech companies—5 percent of the total number of biotechs—are participating in neglected disease research and development. That translates into 39 percent of the 191 new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics in development for neglected diseases. Neglected diseases affect more than 1 billion people, according to BVGH CEO Donald Joseph.

By comparison, big pharma participate in 75 of projects, though Joseph pointed out that there are fewer than 20 big pharma companies and their projects are on a larger scale, spending more and running complex clinical trials in multiple countries.

The BIO 2012 convention in Boston, which runs June 18-21 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, expects to attract about 15,500 attendees—one third of them international.

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