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Exclusive Interview: LianBio and Pfizer Create a First-in-Kind Collaboration in Greater China

publication date: Nov 19, 2020
author/source: Richard Daverman, PhD

Today, LianBio, a Princeton-Shanghai company, and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) announced an innovative agreement to co-develop and co-commercialize novel pharmaceuticals in Greater China. "We started talking to Pfizer several months ago," said Adam Stone, Chief Investment Officer of Perceptive Advisors, LianBio's parent, in an exclusive interview with ChinaBio® Today. "We didn't have a final structure in mind. We just asked the question, 'How can these two platforms work together in a mutually beneficial way?'"

Debra Yu, MD, President and CBO at LianBio, added “We believe we have crafted a first-of-its-kind partnership. We are marrying our ability to access assets from best-in-class development platforms that will have global impact on addressing patient needs, together with the strong capabilities of Pfizer China, across its key functions including market insights, development, regulatory and commercialization.” 

“LianBio’s mission is to deliver best-in-class treatments to patients,” said Konstantin Poukalov, Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors and Executive Chairman of LianBio. “This partnership affords LianBio an opportunity to leverage Pfizer’s development and commercial capabilities and enables Pfizer to expand access to innovative medicines for the region. At the same time, it offers our pipeline partners potential access to LianBio and Pfizer’s core strengths.” He adds, “Pfizer’s well-established infrastructure to engage key constituents including leading physician thought leaders, all the way to its world class market access and commercial engine, is a critical element in this collaboration.”

Founded by Perceptive Advisors, LianBio emerged from stealth mode in August 2020, announcing two major in-licensing deals with Perceptive portfolio companies (see story). It followed that up this month with a significant $310 million initial venture round from well-known investment firms (see story). 

Pfizer participated in LianBio’s recent financing, and it will make up to $70 million in non-dilutive funding available toward in-licensing and co-development activities as part of the new agreement. LianBio will suggest products from its portfolio for joint development, and Pfizer will have right of first negotiation for commercial rights, with each deal having its own structure.

Mr. Poukalov said there is a specified number of possible deals, though the number is not publicly disclosed. During the collaboration, Pfizer may provide in-kind support for marketing, development and regulatory activities. 

Although in-licensing pharma assets for China is a common business model these days, LianBio manages to form collaborations that are more creative. It was formed by the investment firm, Perceptive, to identify eligible products from industry leading companies and develop them in China. Now, to advance this model, it has formed a partnership with a major multinational pharma, something that no other company has done previously.

LianBio's officers agree that the company wants to be unusual and maybe to be not just a little different. It really wants to be "a lot different," to stand out.

"We are building a next generation model," said Dr. Yu. "We recognize the importance of being part of a networked economy. We want to  bring excellent therapeutic assets to our region. We want to be different, do something interesting, do something well."

See our other articles on LianBio.

Disclosure: ChinaBio® has a business relationship with Pfizer.


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