Like many drug majors, AstraZeneca is looking for further growth in China but there are other emerging markets that are also performing very well for the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker.

At its annual press conference in London last week, chief executive David Brennan told PharmaTimes World News that 2007 saw particularly strong sales growth in Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. These countries are developing economically and he noted that the creation of greater wealth is leading to an expansion in these governments’ healthcare activities.

The likelihood of expanding research operations in these areas is unlikely for now, Mr Brennan added, as the company is focusing on the countries where innovative science is taking place. China certainly falls into that category and AstraZeneca now employs some 3,000 people in the country.

The firm’s executive director responsible for development, John Patterson, noted that around 100 of those are employed at AstraZeneca’s $100 million discovery research and translational science centre in Shanghai. The unit is initially focusing on oncology.

Looking to improve relations with regulators
Meantime, Dr Patterson spoke to PharmaTimes World News about the firm’s relationship with various regulatory bodies who have been accused of taking an over-cautious approach when it comes to new drug approvals. He said that he has held one-to-one meetings with the heads of the US and European regulators, among others, and has been told that there is no hidden agenda given the decisions that are being made.

Nevertheless, he said that certain advisory committees seem to have become more demanding and there is a need for drugmakers and the regulatory bodies to spend more time talking so that both sides are clear about what is required to get a greater number of innovative treatments onto the market.