A Bloomberg-backed cancer drug summit aims to thaw US-China relations
Next week, a new coalition will be launched in Singapore in an effort to speed cancer drug development and enhance research cooperation between the US and China, despite rising tensions.
Launched by billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s economic forum, dubbed the Bloomberg International Cancer Coalition, the summit will bring drug execs together from the countries with the two largest cancer populations in the world. The coalition will aim to create new cancer drug standards and cool temperatures that have risen during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Representatives from several high-profile drugmakers will be in attendance, including J&J, Bayer, Roche, Novartis, BeiGene, Zai Lab and academic institutions from China, the US and Europe.
Some current and former diplomats will also be in attendance, but representatives from China and its health regulator have not yet said whether they’ll be in Singapore, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
One diplomat, former Australian Prime Minister and Asia Society chief Kevin Rudd, told FT the effort to lessen the pandemic-induced saber-rattling is akin to the 1970s détente between the US and China, which saw the countries use table tennis as a way to thaw Cold War animosities.
“The US-China relationship has got so bad that we at the Asia Society have formed a view that cancer treatment trials may well become the next iteration of ping-pong diplomacy, to get this relationship back on the rails,” he told FT.
Rudd added that disagreements over intellectual property will likely be discussed at the summit.
The report also noted the group will attempt to use the FDA’s Project Orbis as a model to streamline new drug submissions outside the US. Amgen’s cancer drug Lumakras won approval in several countries in May under the project, and regulators from the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the UK reviewed Amgen’s submission simultaneously.
Several issues have emerged as flash points during the pandemic, causing the relationship between the US and China to head south. Chief among US concerns has been China’s reluctance to allow a full investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, with Chinese authorities blocking WHO researchers earlier this year from accessing certain data.
After that group made its report in February, the WHO announced a second attempt to look into the pandemic’s origins in July. But China said it couldn’t accept the new terms because it included a new provision to investigate whether the coronavirus might have leaked from a Chinese laboratory, NPR reported at the time.
A scientific consensus emerged early in the pandemic that the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from animals to humans, but one US intelligence agency has not ruled out the “lab leak theory,” according to a report. Four other agencies disagreed while another three couldn’t say for certain one way or another.
The WHO established a new scientific advisory group to look into Covid-19 origins last month.