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Week in Review: Sanofi in the Hunt for China M&A
Deals and Financings
Sanofi SA (NYSE: SNY) is actively seeking China M&A opportunities in the consumer healthcare and veterinary products sectors, according to the company’s CEO, Christopher Viehbacher, who was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article (see story). The French big pharma wants to produce double-digit revenue growth in China during each of the next five years. Its China revenues were $1.3 billion in 2012, a 15% increase over the previous year.
Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine (SHA: 600276) has in-licensed China rights to a novel antibody from X-Body Biosciences of Waltham, MA (see story). Hengrui made an unspecified upfront payment, which is part of a “multi-million dollar” agreement. The antibody was generated by X-Body’s platform for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), will fund research at China’s Xiamen University with the goal of developing a universal flu vaccine (see story). The joint effort, which will focus on broad-spectrum neutralization monoclonal antibodies, is already underway at Xiamen University’s National Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases (NIDVD). If successful, the project would end the practice of producing a new vaccine for each year’s flu season.
Baxter’s (NYSE: BAX) China division announced a program to bring home-based kidney dialysis to China’s rural areas, using the company’s peritoneal dialysis device (see story). The program, called Flying Angel, is a partnership between Baxter and the Chinese National Institute of Hospital Administration, and endorsed by the Ministry of Health. Without a home-based therapy, many of these rural patients would not have access to dialysis.
China NT Pharma Group (HK: 01011), a mainland China company that distributes and promotes pharmaceuticals, signed a memorandum of understanding with Sinopharm Group (HK: 01099) to form a “special purpose entity” that will market and sell vaccines and cold-chain pharmaceutical products (see story). The new JV will be located in Shanghai with capital of $32 million. China NT Pharma will contribute 30% of the total.
Hangzhou Nurotron Biotechnology has developed a more affordable cochlear implant, a medical device that allows severely deaf people to hear again (see story). In China, the company offers a $16,000 implant, half the cost of the market-leading Australian import, a $32,000 device from Cochlear Ltd. (ASX: COH). Nurotron is headquartered in Hangzhou, where it also has a manufacturing facility. But its R&D operation is in Irvine, California, close to the home of its founder, Fan-Gang Zeng, PhD, the Director of the Center for Hearing Research at University of California at Irvine.
Government and Regulatory
A strain of bird flu, H7N9, which was never previously diagnosed in humans, has surfaced in China (see story). The number of infections and the deaths are increasing daily. So far, none of the victims had contact with each other, which could indicate person-to-person transmission, and there is no discernible pattern that would explain how these particular people have caught the disease. H7N9 is thought to be a less virulent flu strain than the H5N1 virus that has caused 300 deaths since its initial 2003 outbreak.