A Chinese drug maker with close military ties is seeking fast-track approval for a drug that it says can cure Ebola, as China joins the race to help treat a deadly outbreak of a disease that has spread from Africa to the United States and Europe.
Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group has signed a tie-up with Chinese research Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS) last week to help push the drug called JK-05 through the approval process in China and bring it to market. The drug, developed by the academy, is currently approved for emergency military use only.
"We believe that we can file to the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) before the end of the year," Sihuan's chairman Che Fengsheng said during an investor call last week.
"They are looking at this very seriously... and we could get on the 'green light' track," he added.
Sihuan's drug is only one contender among a number of experimental cures worldwide to treat Ebola, although if successful it would be a huge boon for China's developing pharmaceutical sector and the country's soft power in Africa, an increasingly important partner for the world's No.2 economy.
The current outbreak, the worst on record of the disease, has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in West Africa.
Che said one of Sihuan's strengths was its close military ties. The firm, which claims to be China's third largest prescription drug maker, was originally a military scientific unit, which was spun off into its current form in 2001.
"We have a myriad of connections with the military medical science units and have developed lots of products in cooperation with the AMMS," Che said. AMMS is a research unit of the People's Liberation Army, China's armed forces.