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Goal's health, not just profit

By Meng Fanbin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-09 08:25

Wu Xiaobin, president of Pfizer Greater China, always has ambitious goals not only for himself but for the company he leads.

"When I was a sales representative in Bayer, my dream was to see the opening-up of the Chinese market. Now, Pfizer China's dream is to raise the health condition of all the Chinese," said Wu, who is in charge of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan business of Pfizer, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies.

Wu could have chosen to become a scientist after receiving his PhD from the University of Konstanz, majoring in biochemistry and pharmacology. But he joined Bayer Corp, a Germany-headquartered drug company, as a sales representative.

He could have lived on in Germany comfortably, a goal for many Chinese students back then. But he chose to return to China because, in his words, coming back to China was promising.

He never regretted his decision. Since his return in 1996, Wu has headed three largest international pharmaceutical enterprises in China (Bayer, Wyeth and Pfizer).

"Pfizer will associate with other companies and institutions to reduce the prevalence rate of chronic diseases among the Chinese, so that the latter could become a healthy people," Wu said, adding that the goal is far more difficult than any commercial competition.

The slow-disease-including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and malignant tumors-prevalence rate of Chinese residents almost doubled in a decade from 123.3 percent in 2003 to 245.2 percent in 2013, according to China Self-care Blue Book (2015-16).

The book also shows that more than 300 million Chinese have been diagnosed with chronic disease and the total number of deaths from chronic diseases has risen to 85 percent.

At the same time, slow diseases have appeared as a trend in youth development, beginning to attack middle-aged people in their 40s and 50s.

"For a country's long-term steady development, its people's health should be up to the national strategy level," he said, stressing that Pfizer wants to be an essential part of China's healthcare system, and truly contribute to the society.

For this commitment, Pfizer China does a lot under the leadership of Wu, who said these efforts were far more meaningful than the simple sales growth.

Suggesting that governments, companies and people should all take action, the company sought to set up a cardiovascular prevention and control system in China, so as to fundamentally reduce the morbidity and mortality of the disease.

In cooperation with the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Pfizer China set up a grass-roots project last year to prevent cardiovascular diseases in rural areas through raising treatment level of doctors and relieving economic pressures of local patients.

Until now, 23 pilot counties have been supported by the project.

"If a closed circle was built in a county, which is from prevention, screening, diagnosis to treatment, the morbidity and mortality rates would fall rapidly," said Wu.

Many people in Hotan, a county in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, die from cardiovascular diseases, because of their unhealthy lifestyle. He visited Hotan in early August.

"The medical need is very huge in Hotan. If our pilot project is conducted well in the county, local residents' health would be improved greatly, promoting national stability and strengthening national unity," said Wu.

"Furthermore, we could also expand our successful mode to the countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, improving their people's health, which is good for China's companies going out."

As an international enterprise, Pfizer also collects experiences and lessons of slow disease prevention and control from other countries, and provides useful reference material to Chinese institutions.

Since 1990s, Pfizer China has accumulated more than 200 million yuan in cash and kind in China, in response to natural disasters and various public welfare activities.

"As a company, our aim is to develop better instead of making money," said Wu, stressing that Pfizer aims to innovate continuously to bring patients drugs that can improve their health significantly.

"When I retire, I'd feel very satisfied if, by then, I help make some improvements in China's healthcare sector, such as reducing the number of patients with cardiovascular diseases and less people overusing antibiotics," said Wu.

"Only if we fulfill our corporate social responsibility, revenue is not a big problem on the basis of our high-quality products and efficient promotion," he said.

With more than 10,000 employees, Pfizer China has cumulatively invested more than $1.5 billion in China, including setting up a research and development center and introducing internationally advanced production facilities in some factories.

The drug products not only meet the demand of the Chinese market but exports.

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