Moreover, he said the new channel can expand sales of medical companies. The hospital is purchasing a further 10 titanium rods. Each patient needs only one or two rods.
Lo said safety concerns will ensure the quantity won't be extremely large initially. "The titanium rod producer has agreed to provide the equipment on the mainland because they knew Professor Cheung would perform the surgery," he added, stressing the result of each case is important for the drug and medical equipment producers.
According to HKU-SZH, four other innovative medications have been approved and will soon be put into pilot use at the hospital, following the first drug and device applications.
The first imported medicine under the connect program is Rho(D) immune globulin - a blood disease drug that was used clinically at the hospital on April 29. In addition, the clinical data collected from these applications could also help expedite national approval for related international drugs or devices.
The marketing of many medicines in Hong Kong is synchronized with the world because of mutual recognition, but the mainland needs to do its own clinical results for review and approval, said Huo Peiqiong, general manager of China Resources Guangdong Pharmaceutical - the import agent for the first drugs and equipment.
So registering in Hong Kong or launching the products in the Hong Kong market is much faster than on the mainland, she noted. For example, one drug can be listed in Hong Kong simultaneously in the United States or the United Kingdom.
The connect gives the green light for medicines that are already available in Hong Kong and Macao markets, so more international pharmaceutical enterprises would seek registration there because entering the two special administrative regions mean they could tap the Greater Bay Area or the entire mainland market sooner.
However, it wasn't plain sailing for reviewing, purchasing and transporting the first batch of drugs and device through the connect. Huo recalled it took more than two months to have them delivered.
Many innovative measures were needed to lay a solid foundation for the potential expansion of the connect to more mainland cities. But in the absence of national approval, the import agent had to communicate back and forth between local evaluation authorities and pharmaceutical enterprises to provide proper materials for review.