03.28.18

Johnson & Johnson CEO Says He Supports Open Trade Between US, China

Source: FirstWord

Speaking at the China Development Forum in Beijing, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky suggested open trade between the US and China would be "in everyone's best interest," adding that "it's certainly our hope that we're going to be able to work with government officials [in both countries] to find again, the right path forward to work our way through the current issues." He noted that China is a "very important market force" for Johnson & Johnson, which is in the process of building at least three new facilities in the cities of Xian, Shanghai and Suzhou for both manufacturing as well as R&D, adding "that kind of collaboration builds on overall better understanding and I think better positions us for the future." 

Still, Gorsky suggested Johnson & Johnson will "have to dig in and learn more" about the situation as it unfolds, "but at the end of the day, we think that having…fair, equitable trade around the world is in everyone's best interest." 

Regarding the possibility that China could increase enforcement activity against US firms, particularly pharmaceutical companies, in retaliation against recently announced tariff plans on Chinese imports, Gorsky stressed that Johnson & Johnson would need to be proactive. "That calls for making sure that we've got great products that are right for the market, that are following the appropriate marketing practices, according to the local laws and compliance, which we always try to do," the CEO stated.

Meanwhile, Gorsky said the drugmaker is "very encouraged by many of the changes that we're seeing" in terms of regulatory issues in the country. Citing Johnson & Johnson's recent partnership with China's Legend Biotech for the BCMA-targeting CAR-T cell drug candidate LCAR-B38M, currently under review by Chinese regulators and slated to enter clinical testing in the US for multiple myeloma, Gorsky noted that China has shown "a willingness…to think about using data from around the world [and] about reviewing drugs, particularly lifesaving medications, [in] a much more timely way." However, he added that "there's still work to be done, in areas such as [intellectual property] and others, but we're hopeful that we can continue to have a productive and important dialogue going forward."

The executive also predicted that China's shift to high-quality development could stimulate an "explosion of new technologies" in bio-pharmaceuticals and medical devices, potentially fueling a transformation of the healthcare sector. Gorsky said the shift, which includes a more globalised standard for drug review, "is also planting the seeds for an innovative pharmaceutical industry and initiative in China."

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