The “stabilizing” summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC leaders’ meeting in San Francisco last month opened a “small window” between the two for cooperation in the fight against cancer, the expert on China policy and Australia’s Ambassador to the US Kevin Rudd told a forum held at the Asia Society in New York on Friday.
“We must recognize the delicate nature of the US-China relationship and geopolitics and the small window of opportunity opened by the stabilizing APEC summit between Presidents Biden and Xi,” said Rudd, who is also chairman emeritus of the Asia Society.
“It is now up to us to build bridges and accelerate international clinical trials to save precious lives,” Rudd said.
Rudd spoke via video at the inaugural Cure4Cancer conference organized by the Asia Society on December 1. The event was held together with the 6u annual symposium organized by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the Chinese Thoracic Oncology Group of China, which have collaborated in cancer research.
Fewer than 5% of the approximately 20 million cancer patients worldwide have access to clinical trials of new drugs. Increased testing participation and regulatory harmonization could save 1-2 million lives worldwide each year, experts say.
“Global coordination has demonstrable public health benefits,” especially since many common public health challenges are solvable with modern medicine, said Rudd, a former Australian prime minister and author of “The Avoidable War: The Dangers of A Catastrophic Conflict Between the USA and Xi Jinping’s China”.
“Particularly with China’s absence, we lack the leverage of the world’s largest cancer patient population that accounts for more than 30% of global cancer deaths and as a critical partner in our collective efforts to accelerate clinical trials,” he said.
One hopeful sign of cooperation, Rudd noted, was the approval by China’s State Council – or cabinet – of new guidelines this year supporting foreign investment in the biopharma sector with a clear focus on cancer.
“We have gone a long way to encourage China’s participation in international regulatory harmonization,” he said. “China’s recognition of biopharmaceuticals as a collaborative sphere opens doors to unprecedented innovation possibilities,” he said.
Yi-Long Wu, president of the Chinese Thoracic Oncology Group, or CTONG, was among a delegation of a dozen mainland Chinese speakers who traveled to New York for the event. China has the talent and will to strengthen its role in international cooperation to fight cancer, Wu said. John Oyler, founder and CEO of biotech company BeiGene, highlighted the time-consuming and expensive process for testing today and the benefits of expanded international participation.
Underscoring the event’s global reach, the NORTH Foundation announced during the Cure4Cancer conference that philanthropists Kay Van Norton Poche and Gregory Poche have donated $20 million to help establish a cancer clinical trial research and development center at Royal North Shore Hospital and at North Shore Private Hospital in Sydney. This will be created in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, or MSK, in New York.
Caroline Kennedy, US Ambassador to Australia, welcomed the donation and praised the partnership between the North Shore campus and MSK, drawing inspiration from her late father President John Kennedy’s moonshot and noting that this international initiative will contribute to the Cancer Moonshot by President Joe Biden that aims to cut the cancer death rate in half within 25 years and improve the lives of people with cancer and cancer survivors.
Other speakers included Lisa DeAngelis, medical director at MSK; Shelly Anderson, hospital president at MSK. Bob Li, Medical Ambassador for China and Asia Pacific at MSK. Jing Qian, co-founder and managing director of the Asia Policy Institute’s China Analysis Center. Debra Eisenman, CEO of Asia Society. Catharine Young, White House Cancer Moonshot assistant director of engagement and policy. Richard Pazdur, director of the Oncology Center of Excellence at the US Food and Drug Administration. Isabel Mestres, CEO of City Cancer Challenge. Jennifer Dent, CEO of BIO Ventures for Global Health. Paulo Nigro, CEO of Hospital Sirio-Libanes in Brazil. Stephen Clarke, professor of medicine at the University of Sydney in Australia. Lillian Leigh, chair of advocacy at Thoracic Oncology Group Australasia. and Victoria Wolodzko Smart, senior vice president of mission at Susan G. Komen.
David Fredrickson, executive vice president of oncology operations at AstraZeneca. Tolulope Adewole, managing director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority Advanced Medical Services. Orville Schell, Director of the Asia Society Center for US-China Relations; and Terri Conneran, founder and director of KRAS Kickers, also participated.
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