China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) approved 18 new cancer medicines in 2018, up 157 percent on 2017, said an NMPA official Tuesday.
Cancer medicines accounted for 37.5 percent of the total new medicines approved in 2018, "a notable increase over previous years," said Wang Ping, chief of the division of medicine registration under the NMPA, at a press conference.
"It takes 12 months on average for a new anti-cancer medicine to be approved by the NMPA, down from 24 months before 2018," Wang said.
Last year the Chinese government adopted a series of measures to speed up the approval of imported and domestically-developed cancer medicines.
According to Wang, the government exempted imported medicines from quarantine at border ports so they could reach hospitals and pharmacies as quickly as possible. The approving procedure for imported medicines to enter the Chinese market as well as that for domestic pharmaceutical firms to conduct clinical tests were also simplified.
The NMPA and National Health Commission (NHC) listed 48 types of imported medicines that were much needed in China, including those for rare and deadly diseases. The review period of imported medicines for rare diseases is three months, while for the rest it is six months.
"The country has tried to develop a favorable policy environment for innovation in medicines so that the latest medical research findings could benefit Chinese patients as soon as possible," Wang said.
This year the NMPA will work with the NHC to develop the second list of much needed imported medicines that are qualified for fast-track review, he said.
The NMPA will also try to speed up the review procedure for imported and domestic cancer medicines and tighten up monitoring of adverse reactions, he added.