Deals and Financings
Joinn Laboratories, a pre-clinical CRO with facilities in Beijing and Taicang, was discovered to be the mystery buyer of the ex-Bayer (Xetra: BAY) biopharma campus in the San Francisco Bay area. Joinn, which was founded in 1995, is implementing a "go-big" strategy. It wants to offer major pharmaceutical companies the ability to work on several major projects simultaneously, minimizing the number of CRO contacts each pharma must maintain. Toward that end, Joinn is also building a 1.2 million square foot lab/office building in Taicang, in addition to its newly acquired facility in California.
Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196) continued to execute on its growth-by-acquisition strategy by paying $93 million for a 78% stake in Hunan Dongting Pharma, a company that makes CNS and hemostatic drugs. Donging's major product is quetiapine fumarate, marketed in global markets as Seroquel, an AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Dahuanong Animal Health (SHE: 300186) paid $25.4 million to purchase a 60% stake in Foshan Standard Bio-tech, a fellow veterinary products company. Dahuanong said the acquisition would add products to its portfolio, especially a chicken coccidiosis vaccine. Foshan Standard makes pharmaceutical preparations and feed additives, as does Dahuanong.
GrandPharma (HK: 512) of China licensed China rights to Acetium capsules from Biohit Oyj, a Finish pharmaceutical company. Acetium reduces the level of acetaldehyde, a carcinogen, in the GI tract. GrandPharma will manufacture and distribute the product in China, once SFDA approval has been granted. The agreement includes a diagnostic kit that tests for excessive acetaldehyde. Financial details were not disclosed.
The annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to attend the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference is now over. Interest in China was very high. Most companies included a China Strategy in their presentations, as investors wanted to know how their portfolio companies will address the world's third largest (soon to be second largest) global market. For any China life science company wishing to export to the West, or US/European company that is looking to leverage China's 22% market growth, JPMorgan is a must-attend event.
Government and Regulatory
China ordered the fourth major round of price reductions for drugs, cutting prices by an average of 15%. More expensive drugs will see 20% reductions. The latest set of decreases, which are scheduled for February, will include many drugs from international big pharma. The cuts affect about 400 drugs that belong to 20 broad classes. We include a list of big pharma's products that are included in the latest round.
Trials and Approvals
Zhifei Biological Product Co. (SHE: 300122) won SFDA approval to begin a Phase III trial of an existing product, Vaccae, as a vaccine for tuberculosis, a currently unmet need. Vaccae is an immune system modulator that the company currently sells as an adjuvant to treat TB.
EntreMed (NSDQ: ENMD), a Washington DC-area biotech, has filed an application with the SFDA to begin clinical trials in China of its cancer treatment, ENMD-2076 (see story). The trial is a US-China Phase II test of the drug in patients with triple-negative breast cancer. EntreMed said that adding a China arm to the trial would shorten the time necessary for patient recruitment and save on other costs as well.