China's first COVID-19 oral treatment deal confirmed
Chinese drug producer receives vehement market response
Published: Mar 10, 2022 09:22 PM


China Meheco Corp announced on Wednesday in a statement that it had successfully signed with US-based Pfizer a license that enables the former to sell Pfizer's oral drug in the Chinese market, making it the exclusive operations rights holder of the country's first domestic COVID-19 oral drug.

Chinese industry insiders applauded the news, saying it comes right in time, while expressing expectations for the drug to be an additional option to help control the coronavirus, which flared up lately in some parts of China. 

China Meheco Corp's statement received a significant market response with its shares jumping 10 percent, hitting 19.03 yuan per share at the opening on Thursday.

China Meheco Corp will be responsible for the commercial operation of Pfizer's new coronavirus treatment drug PAXLOVID in the Chinese mainland in 2022, according to the company's statement.

PAXLOVID, taken within three days of the onset of symptoms, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in mild adult cases, the statement said. Before the news was released, there were rumors about the deal between China Meheco Corp and Pfizer.

The company's stock prices kept growing in the past seven trading sessions as of Wednesday, despite the sluggish performance of the overall stock market.

The company said in its statement on Wednesday that the scale of related businesses is expected to account for a small proportion of the company's overall business volume, and it has had no significant impact on the company's recent performance.

China's State Food and Drug Administration on February 11 announced the approval of the import registration of Pfizer's coronavirus treatment drug PAXLOVID with conditions after an emergency review in accordance with relevant provisions and procedures. 

According to the report by Pfizer on Tuesday, clinical data from the EPIC-HR study showed PAXLOVID reduced the risk of hospitalization or death from any cause by 89 percent (within three days of symptom onset) and 88 percent (within five days of symptom onset), compared with a placebo, with no deaths observed in the treatment group.

PAXLOVID is currently authorized or approved in more than 50 countries across the globe, the company said.

Chinese industry insiders applauded the deal, calling it a new measure to rein the epidemic, in addition to vaccines.

"This adds a new way to cure the coronavirus for sure," Cai Tianzhi, deputy secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that to some extent, it ends "the era for all on one board," indicating using solely vaccines and some other measures to fight the epidemic.

"But even with this drug, it will definitely be used simultaneously with the vaccine," Cai said. 

After all, vaccines are used for prevention and drugs are used for treatment, both of which are equally important, and it will eventually be more powerful in terms of better achieving dynamic zero-COVID policy, the expert said.

In view of the fact that there are no imported coronavirus drugs in the market in China, it is necessary to introduce the drug, while the actual effect needs more observation, Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times.

This serves as a good example for openness and collaboration in epidemic prevention and control as well, experts said.