Mar 23, 2021 12:59 AM

China Aims to Improve Access to New Medicines for Residents of Greater Bay Area

What’s new: China launched a pilot program to improve access to imported medicine and medical devices for the 75 million residents in the Greater Bay Area in the latest effort to make the region economically competitive with its overseas counterparts.

The Medicine Connect program will allow the region’s residents to get access to new medicines in a designated hospital in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, before the drugs win approval to market in the rest of the mainland.

Lu Chongmao, director of the Shenzhen Hospital of the University of Hong Kong, said the first drug to debut in the program could be expected in three months. The program will gradually expand to more hospitals in the region, said Lu.

A local newspaper reported that the program will involve a first batch of more than 10 new drugs for diseases including cancer and respiratory illnesses.

The Background: Proposed in 2009, the Greater Bay Area, consisting of Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong, is China’s latest effort to create a new economic hub that could compete with the San Francisco Bay area, Greater New York and Greater Tokyo.

A slew of policies have been rolled out to push forward integration of the region’s labor market, finance and businesses.

Residents in the Chinese mainland often need to wait years longer than people in Hong Kong and Macao to access imported drugs because of complicated local clinic trials and approval procedures.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Han Wei (

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