Cancer drugs among US goods spared from tariffs as China issues first exemptions in trade war
In its first move to spare certain US imports from the trade war, China has offered some relief to cancer drugmakers.
Twelve drugs — mostly chemotherapy agents — featured on the list of products to be exempted from retaliatory tariffs until September 2020. They also belong to the subgroup where tariffs already collected will be returned.
AstraZeneca’s EGFR inhibitor Iressa appears to be the only non-chemo drug in the group. Here’s the list, translated from the Ministry of Finance’s original announcement:
decitabine, floxuridine, cyclophosphamide, gefitinib, capecitabine, raltitrexed, fludarabine, tegafur, cytarabine hydrochloride, gemcitabine hydrochloride, icotinib hydrochloride, ifosfamide
Officials told the state-owned People Daily that there were three main reasons behind the exemptions on these 16 classes of products — including fish feed and lubricants — which marks the first time the Chinese government has done so since the trade war started. It’s been difficult to find alternate sources for these goods, and tariffs have been detrimental to both individual companies and the related industries.
While the exemptions signal goodwill from Beijing, it’s unlikely to have a big impact on pharma players’ plans in the country as they shift their focus from old drugs near the end of their patent life to innovative treatments, which are getting to market more quickly thanks to dramatic reforms. Last August, the regulatory body, now known as the National Medical Products Administration, unveiled a list of 48 foreign drugs eligible for priority review.
Days ago, AstraZeneca’s head of international markets Leon Wang said in an interview with Bloomberg that he expects novel therapies to make up 60% of the company’s China revenue by 2024. The figure was 18% in 2018 by Bloomberg’s count. Meanwhile, Novartis has a plan to submit 50 new drug approvals by 2023.