New Lung Cancer Drug From AstraZeneca is Approved in China

AstraZeneca Plc said it had a key lung cancer drug approved in China, opening up a new market for the therapy and allowing U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker to reach thousands of new patients in country where the disease is surging.

The company has permission to start marketing the medicine, named Tagrisso, in China, it said in a statement posted on its official WeChat account.

As incidence of diseases like cancer and diabetes rise in China, the country is becoming increasingly important to the global pharmaceutical industry. Still, drugmakers face challenges shoring up profits in the Asian nation as the government pushes to curb the prices of medicines.

China’s Food and Drug Administration has sought to speed up drug approvals in the country, and is also weighing a proposal to ease some requirements for companies conducting international clinical trials.

AstraZeneca representatives couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. China logged more than 700,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2015, the product of a surge in air pollution, high smoking rates and unhealthy lifestyles as incomes have risen. AstraZeneca got more than 12 percent of its revenue from China last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

— With assistance by Hui Li

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