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All Talk, But Where's the Action?

There is certainly no shortage of ambition in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry, says In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe. But does it have the resources and wherewithal to follow through? China already has a substantial contract research industry, and it seems clear, Lowe says, that a Chinese Merck or a Chinese Novartis eventually will exist. But the question is when will a Chinese startup, doing its own research with its own people in China develop its own international drug pipeline? Opinions differ, Lowe says, but a recent article in Chemical and Engineering News sheds some light on the issue. The article describes a new Chinese company that plans to launch its own breakthrough drugs within four years, manufacture the compounds, and sell them. But as of now, the company employs eight people and doesn't have an R&D lab or manufacturing facility. "Let me join those who dismiss business plans that are as ambitious as that one," Lowe says. "The way I understand the drug industry, if you're planning on launching a breakthrough drug within four years, you must have that drug in your hand right now, and it has to have had a lot of preclinical work done on it already."

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.