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What Chinese Drug Company's Move Could Mean For Md.

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Gov. Martin O'Malley and Tasly Group Chairman Yan Xijun at the company ceremony in Shanghai, China.
Bill Marcus
Gov. Martin O'Malley and Tasly Group Chairman Yan Xijun at the company ceremony in Shanghai, China.

The company is preparing to conduct Phase III clinical trials of a traditional Chinese medicine product called Compound Danshen Dripping Pills. The company claims they help prevent coronary disease. This would be the first traditional Chinese medicine to receive FDA approval.

Tasly's chairman, Yan Xijun, says the Danshen pills are preventative: They stimulate blood circulation and they provide more blood and oxygen to the heart in order to relieve angina. Marcus says they market the pills in 15 countries as a drug and 32 countries as a dietary supplement. He says the company makes about $154 million a year and is a "number one seller."

Specialists for economic development in Maryland told Marcus the long-term tax impact in Maryland is unknown, but they do say that in the next three years there will be about 150 people who will have good-paying jobs in the biotech industry.

Why Maryland? Marcus says the state was chosen in part because it houses 58 different federal facilities, including the National Institutes for Health and the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration. There are also agritech and high-tech companies. These resources, along with Johns Hopkins University, could become partners for research and development.

Next on O'Malley's itinerary on his 10-day tour is a trip to Nanjing to see Johns Hopkins' educational program there. Marcus says he'll then go to Beijing, followed by Korea and Vietnam. O'Malley's not traveling alone; he has about 70 academic and business leaders.

"The reason why he's here and they're all here is because for China it means quite a bit to have your chief public officer here with you, and it opens a lot of doors for you if you are a business," Marcus says. "So what he's doing here is playing a very key ceremonial role in connecting Maryland to its China trade partners and prospective trade partners."

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