Roxadustat is the first new oral hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor.

Patients in China with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are on dialysis and suffer from anemia will soon have an alternative to erythropoietin (EPO), the current standard treatment. EPO is an injectable drug with cardiovascular safety concerns.

The drug –– roxadustat –– was developed by AstraZeneca and FibroGen; it was recently approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration. Roxadustat is an oral anemia treatment and the first hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor, which works by increasing red blood cell production by mimicking the body’s response to high altitude.

The approval in China comes before approvals in the United States and Europe, though both companies expect to launch the new drug in the second half of 2019. FibroGen sponsored the development and registration in the country and AstraZeneca will be responsible for its marketing.