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11 March, 2016 - 11:08 By Kate Sweeney

Avita Medical scales activity in massive China market

Cambridge UK wound technology front runner Avita Medical has strengthened its presence in China through a deal with the country’s leading healthcare group – the state-owned Sinopharm.

Avita has been active in China for five years, mainly in its three chief cities, but is now significantly broadening that reach through the new distribution agreement.

CEO Adam Kelliher says there is major headroom for new sales in  the Chinese market, which has about 3.4 million people hospitalised with burns each year and around 1.4 million afflicted by vitiligo – a chronic skin condition characterised by portions of the skin losing their pigment.

Outside these core markets, there was also great scope for expansion into cosmetic surgery and chronic wounds in China, Kelliher says.

The Chinese distributor deal is the eighth territory to be signed by Avita in the past three months as the company escalates its commercialisation activities and expands its sales footprint.

Until now, Avita’s sales success in China has been confined to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Its focus to date has primarily been in the fields of plastics and repigmentation with a presence in several leading hospitals, including Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Zhongshan University No.1 hospital, Shanghai No 9 Hospital and Beijing Air Force Hospital.

Sinopharm gives Avita a powerful ally. It is the largest medical and healthcare group in the world’s most populous country. It is involved in distribution, retail sales, R & D and the manufacture of various healthcare-related products, generating sales of RMB 200 billion ($30 billion) in 2014. Sinopharm is the first Chinese pharmaceutical company to be listed in the Fortune Global 500 list and the company is publicly traded on the Hong Kong exchange.

Avita said it had been drawn towards Sinopharm in part because of the group’s wide reach, as it has offices in all main Chinese cities, and representation in 31 of the country’s provinces and regions.

Kelliher said: “Sinopharm MedTech has a proven track record of building up strong recurrent sales of medical devices,and we greatly look forward to supporting their efforts in growing the China market.

“Avita has already done a lot of the hard work in China and now is the time to build on this and work with a strong partner to address the clear need for our regenerative medicine products.”

Avita will provide clinical support to the Sinopharm MedTech sales team and extended agent network, to help with interactions with medical professionals. The support strategy would also involve backing new research into Avita’s regenerative medicine approach, given positive interactions with Chinese researchers to date. 

Investigators in Guangzhou last year delivered the first randomised controlled trial to use the device on chronic wounds, which showed superior wound closure amongst those treated with Avita’s lead product, ReCell®.

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