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Roche sets up R&D centre in Shanghai
( 2004-01-19 10:41) (China Daily by Chen Weihua)

Roche, one of the world's leading healthcare groups, will establish a research and development centre in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park of Shanghai's Pudong New Area.

It will be Roche's fifth R&D centre in the world and the first in a developing country, said Andreas Tschirky, who is expected to become the managing director of the R&D centre.

It will also be the first wholly owned and operated R&D centre set up in Shanghai by a multinational pharmaceutical company. Roche's other four R&D sites are in the US, Germany and its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

"For Roche, the establishment of the R&D centre in Shanghai means we are entering a new field in China -- in addition to our production facilities in Shanghai and our nationwide marketing and sales organization," said Roche Pharmaceuticals Shanghai Ltd General Manager Antonio Chow.

"For China, this investment is a big step towards making Shanghai a centre for pharmaceutical research and biotechnology through transfers of international expertise, competence and knowledge."

He added that Roche's prescription medicine business is expected to double in China in the coming five years to 2 billion yuan (US$240 million).

Scheduled to be fully operational by the end of the year, the Shanghai R&D facility will be staffed by 40 chemists.

After the R&D centre gains more experience within the next five years, it will become more active in participating in Roche's global projects, according to Chow. These may include projects of special concern to China, such as AIDS and hepatitis B.

Traditional Chinese medicine will also be a key area of research in the future, according to Andreas Tschirky, who has been responsible for Roche's R&D in China for the last few years.

Roche Group Research President Jonathan Knowles was quoted by company officials as saying that China is a country with excellent resources and internationally trained biomedical scientists.

The creation of the fifth research site in the Roche Pharmaceutical Division represents a key strategic decision that will allow Roche to continue to enhance its capabilities in medicinal chemistry on a global level.

"Looking at the long term, our aim is for the group in Shanghai to discover and optimize new molecules -- active ingredients of potential new drugs -- which address important unmet medical needs and can be marketed worldwide, including China," Knowles was quoted as saying.

Roche has been active in China for the last decade, with both core businesses -- diagnostics and pharmaceuticals -- represented. It is one of the leading suppliers of prescription medicines in China. The Roche Group employs a total of 1,200 people in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

In the R&D area, it is collaborating with the Chinese National Genome Centres in Shanghai and Beijing on genetic epidemiology studies into genetic predispositions to conditions such as diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

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