Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, will soon set up a regional headquarters and its first clinical trial center in the city, which already has some of the best medical talent and medical science resources in the country.

Allan Gabor, chairman and general manager of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Ltd China, recently said: "The legal procedures for setting up the regional headquarters are now under way and the Shanghai-based clinical trial center project is an indication of our confidence in China."

Pfizer acquired Shanghai-based Pharmacia in April this year, which has one holding company and three factories in China, greatly accelerating Pfizer's new business in China, and thus requiring the setting up of a regional headquarters to facilitate better national management. At present, Pfizer offers 40 innovative products in China and another 13 new drugs are planned to be introduced to Chinese consumers within five years, hence the need to build a center in Shanghai.

"China's clinical trial center will not only be concerned developing drugs for local approval, but also be part of Pfizer's global R&D (research and development) network," said Gobar. Clinical trial is the last phase in the development of new drugs, and Chinese medical institutes are becoming increasingly aware that active participation in international clinical trials is essential to success in the industry.

Aside from Pfizer, a number of other multinational pharmaceutical companies have expressed their willingness to develop R&D centers in the city. The Shanghai branch of Swiss-based Roche will present a proposal for setting up a R&D centre in China to its headquarters in Switzerland within four to six weeks. In early October, US-based Eli Lilly declared operational its China research lab in the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, built in co-operation with its Chinese partner Shanghai ChemExplorer, a chemical research company.

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