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China Allows AstraZeneca's COVID Preventive Drug in Southern City

FILE - The logo of AstraZeneca is seen on medication packages in a pharmacy in London. Apr. 28, 2014.
FILE - The logo of AstraZeneca is seen on medication packages in a pharmacy in London. Apr. 28, 2014.

BEIJING - AstraZeneca Plc's AZN.L antibody cocktail for COVID-19 prevention has been cleared for use in a medical tourism zone in China's southern province of Hainan ahead of national approval, local media said on Tuesday.

China allows early use of new medical products in the special zone in Qionghai city as a part of several preferential policies granted to the area to promote medical services to visitors from both home and abroad.

Hainan Daily, backed by the provincial Communist Party authority, reported that a shipment worth 21.98 million yuan ($3.28 million) of AstraZeneca's antibody-based therapy Evusheld has completed procedures at local customs as special imports.

The drug has been authorised in many regions including the United States, the United Kingdom and European Union for preventing infections in people whose immune system is too weak to respond to vaccines.

"We hope that Evusheld becomes available in more countries as soon as possible," an AstraZeneca spokesperson said, without providing details on any further plan for the medicine in China.

Other Western products yet to be cleared for national use but currently available in Hainan's Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone include
Novartis' NOVN.S breast cancer drug Piqray and Gilead's GILD.O fungal infection medicine AmBisome.

Merck's MRK.N blockbuster cancer treatment Keytruda had also been cleared for import to the zone in 2016 before it was approved nationally two years later.

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