Deals and Financings
Sinopharm Group (HK: 1099), the biggest drug distributor in China, raised $515 million by selling new Hong Kong-listed shares. The company said it would use the money to expand its sales network, which probably means a new round of M&A in China's distribution sector. Earlier this month, the company raised $640 million in five-year corporate bonds on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
SK Biopharmaceuticals of South Korea formed a collaboration with two China companies to develop its novel treatment for depression and bipolar disorder. Together with SK Biopharma, Shanghai Medicilon has been working on the pre-clinical tests for the drug candidate, known as SKL-PSY. They have been joined by two subsidiaries of PKU International HealthCare. The collaboration expects to begin China clinical trials of SKL-PSY later this year.
Weihai Weigao Medical Devices (HK: 1066) will distribute TriReme Medical's portfolio of innovative catheters and stents in China. TriReme is a US-Singapore medical device maker. Weigao will sell TriReme's products directly to hospitals and through its network of distributors. TriReme's avowed strategy is to sell its minimally invasive interventional cardiology products in the US and Asia. The company previous signed up a Japan distribution partner.
Government and Regulatory
China's Ministry of Health issued its new essential medicine list, which includes 520 products, up from 307 in the 2009 version of the EDL. The 520 drugs are comprised of 317 chemical/biological drugs and 203 TCM products. Almost 200 of the products are aimed at children, redressing a deficiency of the previous EDL. Notably, the new list now includes drugs for cancer and diabetes, and some of the products come from multinational pharmas.
General Electric Healthcare (NYSE: GE), a maker of medical imaging equipment, will double production in China by the end of 2015 (see story). The new production will be split equally between high-end and basic machines, as GE is targeting sales to both China's large metropolitan cities and its less-well-served rural areas.
Trials and Approvals
The Australia-headquartered biopharma Agenix [ASX: AGX] now expects to file a China clinical trial application for its hepatitis B drug candidate, AGX-1009, with the SFDA by June of this year. Agenix hopes to begin a Phase I trial of AGX-1009 in the first half of 2014. Agenix will position the drug as a low-cost, once-daily treatment for hepatitis B patients who have developed resistance to other treatments.
Life Technologies (NSDQ: LIFE) received SFDA approval for diagnostic use of its Applied Biosystems 3500xL Dx Genetic Analyzer (see story). The company's JV with Daan Gene is developing 10 assays for use on the machine. Life Tech called the approval a "major extension" of its ability to serve the clinical market in China with machines based on Sanger-method sequencing.
Cellular Biomedicine Group (OTCQB:CBMG) started a clinical trial in China of an innovative personalized treatment for liver cancer (see story). Through a collaboration with Shanghai's PLA 85 Hospital, the company will test its TC-DC (Tumor Stem Cell Specific Dendritic Cell) therapy in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). CBMG has facilities in Shanghai and WuXi, though its headquarters are in Palo Alto, California.