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The Week in Review: China's BGI Acquires Complete Genomics of the US
China’s BGI, the world’s largest sequencing company, paid $117 million to buy Complete Genomics (NSDQ: GNOM), a California-based gene sequencing company (see story). Complete Genomics owns a platform technology for sequencing whole human genomes. The company put itself up for sale at the beginning of the summer. By purchasing Complete Genomics, BGI has acquired another platform, and it has also extended its footprint in the US.
Alliance Boots, a global chain of retail pharmacies based in the UK, agreed to pay $91 million to purchase a 12% stake in China's Nanjing Pharmaceutical (SHA: 600713) (see story). A state-owned company, Nanjing Pharma is the fifth-largest drug distributor in China. In June, Alliance merged with Walgreen (NYSE: WAG), a US drug store chain, combining Alliance Boots’ strength in Europe and emerging countries with Walgreen’s US presence. Now the alliance has increased its foothold in China.
China Cord Blood Corp. (NYSE: CO) announced that its corporate parent, Golden Meditech Holdings (HK: 801; TW: 910801), would invest another $50 million in China Cord Blood, allowing it to expand its business – perhaps beyond China (see story). Golden Meditech already owns 42% of CCBC. The new investment is a convertible bond that can be converted into another 15.5% of the company. CCBC seems to already have a lot of cash.
NovaBay Pharma (NYSE: NBY) has expanded its partnership with Pioneer Pharma to distribute NovaBay’s NeutroPhase skin and wound cleanser in selected Southeast Asian countries over a five-year period (see story). The agreement calls for Pioneer to make an upfront payment of $500,000 and $200,000 in milestones. In addition, Pioneer will make an equity investment in NovaBay that could reach $5.5 million. In January, Pioneer in-licensed exclusive rights to the cleanser for mainland China.
Government & Regulatory
In a widely expected move, China ordered an average 17% reduction in the maximum retail prices of 95 cancer, immunology and blood-related drugs, many of them produced by foreign drugmakers (see story). Unlike earlier rounds of price cuts, this one concentrated on drugs with high daily costs. Especially hard hit were drugs with “separated pricing” – the drugs available from a foreign manufacturer at a higher price than their China generic equivalents. At the same time, China’s NDRC reiterated support for prices that are high enough to encourage innovative drug research.
Big Pharma in China
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) will set up four innovation centers around the globe – one of them in China (see story). The goal will be to identify and in-license promising early-stage innovative technologies that may solve currently unmet medical needs. The centers will be staffed with 15 to 20-member teams that include scientists, business developers and deal-makers. The company placed the centers in drug research hotspots so that the J&J teams can have first-hand knowledge of local developments.
Trials and Approvals
Shanghai Kinetic Medical Co. (SHE: 300326) said its KMC Kyphoplasty System has been approved for use in the US by the FDA (see story). The company plans to expand its marketing first to the US and ultimately to other international markets. The Kyphoplasty System, which consists of a balloon catheter and a related tool kit, is used to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae. After a vertebra collapses, the balloon is used to restore the proper height and angle of the spine, and is then cemented in place.