China Biopharma Takes No Holiday Break

by: ChinaBio Today

Christmas week put its usual chokehold on biopharma news in the U.S., slowing the flow down to a trickle. But China stepped into the near void, making up the difference by delivering stories about investments, deals and progress on new drug deals. In ChinaBio Today, we published an exclusive interview with the two companies that jointly won the “Most Promising Company” for drug development at the recent ChinaBio Investor Forum. The two companies were ProteLight Pharmaceuticals of China and BioAMPs International of Denver, CO (see story). Together, they own the worldwide rights to V13K, a peptide-based antibiotic currently in pre-clinical development. As a peptide, V13K attacks the membrane of the pathogen, instead of targeting a metabolic pathway as a small-molecule drug would do. The goal of the new mechanism is to address the unmet need of drug resistant infections. Two companies have an unusual method for handling the international development of a new drug class, showing innovation in their business plan as well as their highly original scientific research.

News also surfaced of a new VC fund for Jilin province, aimed at increasing biopharma activity in Jilin. Power Capital Co., Ltd. and a fund of funds in Jilin Province established a 200 million RMB ($30 million) venture capital fund that will invest in pharmaceutical companies in Jilin (see story). Power Capital also plans to set up a parallel fund for M&A and reorganization of the province's pharmaceutical resources. Power Capital, a joint-venture VC fund, offers experience in fund of funds management, direct investment, and investment banking. Jilin’s fund of funds, which has a value of approximately 1 billion RMB ($150 million), was co-founded by the Jilin government and the China Development Bank.

In a large transaction, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) paid HK $1.7 billion (US $221 million) for a 15% interest in fellow medical device maker Shandong Wiegao Group Medical Polymer Company (HKEX: 8199) (see story). Following the investment, Medtronic and Wiegao have established a joint venture (controlled 51/49 by Medtronic) that will market Medtronic's spinal devices and Wiegao's orthopedic products in China. Wiegao’s orthopedic division manufactures devices for the hip, shoulder, spine and trauma.

In the vaccine sector, Beijing Tiantan Biological Products (SHSE: 600161) announced it will acquire a 90% interest in Chengdu Rongsheng Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. for $84 million (see story). Tiantan will use a combination of stock and cash to make the purchase. At the same time, the company said it will spend 1 billion RMB ($150 million) to build a modernized vaccine manufacturing facility in Daxing. To raise additional cash for the project, Tiantan will place between 50 million and 70 million shares at a price of at least 12.99 RMB. Tiantan said the private placement could raise as much as 1.5 billion RMB ($224 million).

BMP Sunstone Corporation (BJGP) will pay 20 million RMB ($3 million) to acquire 50% of Zhangjiakou Shengda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. from Beijing Penn Pharmaceutical Sci-Tech Development Co. (see story). Eventually, BMP Sunstone intends to acquire a majority stake in Shengda. Like BMP Sunstone, Shengda focuses on the pediatric market with a special interest in antibiotics. It has SFDA approval to manufacture 76 drugs, many of which are formulations of penicillin and cephalosporin. They also produce amoxicillin tablets and capsules, as well as clavulanate potassium compounds, often in dispersible tablet form.

ProGenTech, a molecular diagnostics company headquartered in California but with its operations in Shanghai, signed a collaboration agreement with the China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) to create a joint laboratory (see story). The lab will focus on developing next generation molecular diagnostic systems and assays, using ProGenTech’s Entura instrument platform. The Entura instrument platform, together with its proprietary cassettes, was launched in Asia in late 2007. The ProGenTech-China CDC system will be designed to detect existing and emerging pathogens identified as high priorities by the CDC in China.

Guizhou Baiqiang Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. has held a groundbreaking for a new manufacturing facility that will increase capacity to produce its anti-tumor drug, a combination of disodium cantharidinate and vitamin B6 injection (see story). The company says the drug has a synergistic effect when used with other cancer medications, reduces the side-effects of chemotherapy and improves liver function. It is approved to treat advanced lung cancer. When complete, the new facility will enable the company to realize revenues of 600 million RMB ($88 million) per year.

China Sky One Medical (OTCPK:CSKI) said its subsidiary, Heilongjiang Tianlong Pharmaceutical, received SFDA production approval for four newly developed drugs (see story). These additions bring the company’s totals to eight new products in the last three weeks and 19 so far this year. The new drugs will be launched in Q2. China Sky One said it would provide sales estimates for the new products in the near future.

China Biologic Products (NASDAQ:CBPO) announced a contract to ship $1.6 million worth of its plasma-based products to India (see story). The products, which will be sold under China Biologic’s name, have been registered under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO)), the drug control administration in India. China Biologic recently began an initiative to ramp up its international sales. The first part of the shipment has been delivered, and the entire order is expected to be complete before January 31, 2009.

And, finally, Tianyin Pharmaceutical (NYSEMKT:TPI) received a production license for Tongbianling Capsules, a generic TCM treatment for constipation, in a dosage of 0.25 gram/capsule (see story). The company plans to launch the new product in February 2009. Tianyin Pharma said constipation is a common problem among China’s elderly population: about 45 million Chinese use laxatives regularly. Tianyin, which operates on a June 30 fiscal year, also reiterated its fiscal year 2009 guidance.

Disclosure: none.