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Biopharma firm UCB brings new arthritis therapy to China

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | | Updated: 2019-12-16 16:59
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Belgium-based global biopharmaceutical company UCB announced the commercial launch of an innovative biological therapy to treat moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for adult patients in China, marking the expansion of company's business footprint to immune system diseases in the country.

The injection that patients are suggested to take every two weeks is the first biological agent approved in China to be used for female RA patients both during pregnancy and lactation if clinically needed.

Doctors said RA is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic joint inflammation and affects 5 million people in China. The number of women patients suffering from the disease is three times that of the opposite gender, and women at childbearing age usually have to face the dilemma between postponing starting a family and suspending disease treatment with traditional therapies.

Tian Xinping, chief physician of the department of rheumatology and immunology of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said if the disease is not well controlled for women before and during pregnancy, it may increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia. RA also comes with high disease relapse rate after giving birth, she said.

Taco van Tiel, vice-president and head of international markets of UCB, said the product with novel molecular structure made world debut in Switzerland 12 years ago and so far has been available in 56 countries and benefiting over 380,000 patients.

"We're delighted to bring this novel medicine to Chinese patients living with challenging chronic inflammatory conditions. UCB has a long heritage in immunology and now China has built an active pipeline of innovative portfolios reflecting UCB's global strengths," he said.

Wu Xin, managing director of UCB China, said about five innovative molecules, including those treating autoimmune disease and osteoporosis, are scheduled by the company to be launched in the China market over the next five years.

"For two drugs, China is part of the global Phase III clinical trial simultaneously," he said.

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