An agreement amounting more than 500 million U.S. dollars between Greek- Swiss pharmaceutical and clinical research group Sellas Clinicals Holding and Chinese pharmaceutical conglomerate Fosun Pharma for the development and marketing of two drugs for treating diabetes and lung cancer was signed in Athens on Wednesday.
It is the first time that Greek and Chinese scientists and businessmen are joining forces in the field of healthcare, starting with two promising chemical compounds.
Under the agreement, Swiss- based Sellas, created by Greek scientist Angelos Stergiou, will pay Fosun Pharma's drug discovery subsidiary, Fochon Pharma, 388 million euros (533.6 million U.S. dollars) for the development of two novel molecules for diabetes (fotagliptin benzoate) and lung cancer (Pan-HER inhibitors) and to get them to the stage of health approval and commercialization for global market rights (except China).
In addition, Fochon-Fosun, an expert in drug discovery and one of the top five domestic pharmaceutical enterprises in China, will receive a 10 percent royalty on sales.
The global diabetes pharmaceutical market today is worth around 25 billion euros, while lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer and the global market is multi-billion euros.
Under the current timetables, after the clinical trials in humans are completed successfully, the medications could reach the market over the next five years.
Addressing the signing ceremony on Wednesday, representatives of the two companies and officials noted the project's significance for scientific progress, for the benefit of patients, for the further economic development of the two firms and for the future of Sino-Greek collaboration.
"Today's event is a very significant development. This is the first time that the two sides are working in the field of pharmaceutical developments, in the field of innovation, in the field of development for two very important drugs for the treatment of diabetes and lung cancer," Chinese ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen told Xinhua.
"In China we have been seeing significant progress in development and innovation. Chinese economy is very much driven by innovation. We have many very successful scientists and research institutions working very well in developing products. For them to work with collaborators in Europe for the development of new products like the ones of today's agreement is very significant," he explained.
In his address Greek Deputy Minister of Development and Competitiveness Notis Mitarachis added that the agreement paves the way for further joint projects amongst Greek and Chinese companies in the healthcare field and other sectors, in a crucial period for Greece, as the country is struggling to exit an acute financial crisis.
"It is an important deal which shows the potential of further cooperation between Greece and the People's Republic of China. It is an agreement which creates new job positions, contributes to the exchange of scientific knowledge, strengthens Sino-Greek relations and upgrades Greece's position on the global map of innovation," he said.
Commenting on the criteria for the collaboration with Fosun Pharma, Sellas CEO and Chairman Stergiou told Xinhua that "Fosun and their subsidiary have two very critically important molecules for diabetes and lung cancer which we believe will be blockbuster drugs. They can penetrate into a market ultimately that is worth more than 50 billion euros."
"We have the expertise to do the clinical research and clinical trials in humans and to progress so that the drugs will become commercially available over the next 4-5 years," Stergiou added.
On their part Fosun Pharma Chairman Chen Qiyu and Fochon Pharma President and CEO Wang Weibo, the "father" of the two innovations, commented that the success of this cooperation is going to be a "blessing" for people suffering from diabetes and lung cancer.
Chen noted that through this partnership Fosun Pharma expects that Greece will be a gateway for its products into Europe.