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"Pharma in China Being Held to Higher Standard, Says Greg Scott, ChinaBio"
Week in Review: Hutchison Chi-Med Forms Drug Development JV with Nestlé
Deals and Transactions
Hutchison Chi-Med (AIM: HCM) and Nestlé announced the formation of a major new JV based on Chi-Med’s expertise in traditional Chinese medicines (see story). The JV, which will be called Nutrition Science Partners Limited, will focus on innovative gastrointestinal TCM-based medicines and nutritional products. Although the description sounds like an OTC venture, it also includes Chi-Med’s lead drug candidate, HMPL-004, a TCM-derived drug. HMPL-004 will soon begin Phase III trials as a treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Crown Bioscience will join with Beijing Purunao Biotech to develop small molecule drugs aimed at oncology targets (see story). Crown Bio is a US-headquartered pre-clinical CRO specializing in cancer drugs with labs in China and the US; Purunao is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sichuan Hengkang Development. The goal of the partnership is to develop and commercialize the drugs in China first and then take them to global markets. Crown Bioscience will receive an upfront payment for transferring its patents to the partnership and also will be given payments for attaining milestones.
Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have agreed to jointly develop an innovative, small-molecule, triple-target oncology drug (see story). The two entities will share the risk, the patent and benefits, though specific details of the arrangement were not disclosed. Fosun’s share of the research will be carried out by Chongqing Fochon Pharma, a subsidiary founded in 2009 by Dr. Weibo Wang.
According to reports, a 24% stake in China Pharmaceutical R&D Center Co. is up for sale at a price of 15.4 million RMB ($2.5 million) (see story). The company is an R&D, technology and service platform under the state-owned China Resources Pharmaceutical Group Limited. The company reported declining revenues and a net loss for the first nine months of 2012.
Commissioned by Barclays Bank, ChinaBio® recently completed a survey of 70 participants in the China healthcare sector (doctors, pharmacists, sales directors and executives), polling their outlook for the sector over the next six months (see story). Over half of the respondents are optimistic. One year ago, only 44% considered themselves positive on the future of their industry. According to Barclays, the change in sentiment is one of several reasons to expect higher prices on China healthcare stocks.
Trials and Approvals
AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) was given SFDA approval for Brilinta, a drug that helps prevent blood clots, for patients with acute coronary syndrome (see story). Brilinta was approved in the EU in 2010 and the US in 2011. Although it was more effective than industry-standard Plavix, Brilinta has not met its revenue expectations. In the west, Plavix is now available in generic form, making it even more difficult for AstraZeneca to make inroads.
Qiagen (NSDQ: QGEN), the Dutch diagnostics company, has been granted SFDA approval for its careHPV Test (see story). According to the company, the test is the first molecular diagnostic to screen for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) that is designed for resource-poor clinical settings – settings that lack electricity, water or a modern lab. The test can provide results during the patient’s visit. Qiagen will manufacture the test in its Shenzhen plant.
TTY Biopharm, a Taiwanese drugmaker, officially opened its new $100 million drug manufacturing facility in Suzhou (see story). The new plant, which will be operated by a subsidiary, TOT Biopharm, will produce injectible drugs that treat cancer. Started as a generic drug company in 1960, TTY now also develops innovative medicines, mainly cancer treatments, but also anti-infectives and drugs that treat blood vessel diseases. The company markets its products around the globe.
Disclosure: ChinaBio® has a business relationship with Barclays Bank.