(Bloomberg) -- Gilead Sciences Inc. hired a former Roche Holding AG executive to build its China commercial operations, preparing for the potential launch of the company’s blockbuster hepatitis drugs in that market over the next few years.
Rogers Luo joined Gilead as vice president and general manager of commercial operations in China, Gilead said in an e-mail. The Foster City, California-based company’s drug Sovaldi and other treatments remain unavailable in China, where a lengthy drug approval process can delay access by several years.
Luo will lead the buildup of the commercial team across China to support "the anticipated launches" of Gilead’s hepatitis C and hepatitis B therapies over the next several years, the company said.
Getting approval in China would open a vast new market for Gilead. China’s government has sought to revamp its regulatory process for medicines and the China Food and Drug Administration announced in April that Sovaldi and another of Gilead’s therapies called Harvoni were both included in a list of drugs that would receive priority review. The CFDA did not specify how long the process would take and when they might receive approval.
Gilead’s Sovaldi is priced at $84,000 for a 12-week course in the U.S. In 2014, Gilead agreed to let several Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers sell generic versions in 101 low-income countries, capping the price of a full course at $900.
Luo was previously vice president at Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals, according to a Roche representative.
With assistance from Li Hui