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Novartis to more than double China sales on faster drug approvals

Novartis AG CEO Vas Narasimhan said sales in China could more than double over the next five years, following the country's overhaul of its drug approval policies in 2017, Bloomberg News reported.

Under China's new rules, foreign drugmakers can now use data from overseas trials in regulatory filings. The country's State Council said the changes aim to promote restructuring and innovation, as local companies struggle to keep up with international standards and serve a fast-aging population.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television in Beijing, Narasimhan said the company aims to secure faster reimbursement for higher-technology medicines and referred to its CAR-T therapy for certain cancers, which involves engineering immune cells to attack tumors.

Additionally, Narasimhan said Novartis is including China in all of its late-stage trials to get drugs to the market faster. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant generates $2 billion in annual sales from the 15 products it submitted for Chinese regulatory approval in 2017.

China's pharmaceutical market was worth $122 billion in 2017 and is the second-largest in the world after the U.S, according to IQVIA.