The Chinese government have set up a special economic zone for medical tourism.
Hainan Boao Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone, the first of its kind in the country, was approved by the State Council in 2013. It enjoys nine preferential polices, including special permission for medical talent, technology, devices and drugs, and an allowance for entrance of foreign capital and international communications.
The pilot zone also has permission to carry out leading-edge medical technology research, such as stem cell clinical research.
The zone, for example, offers a way to skirt the slow Chinese FDA (and presumably the slow US FDA as well).
Established in 2013, the Hainan program will open up new treatments–including Keytruda–to affluent Chinese residents who can afford the travel and medical costs, while other patients will have to wait for regulators to approve them. In recent years, mainland Chinese patients have increasingly traveled to Hong Kong or elsewhere in the face of lagging drug approvals by the China FDA and high treatment costs.
The zone is too small to have a significant impact on worldwide R&D but China’s original SEZs soon expanded. The SEZ could also encourage some interesting experiments. Keep an eye out for billionaires who travel to the island for a holiday and emerging looking younger and healthier.