Deals and Financings
BeiGene, a Beijing biopharma startup, out-licensed the ex-China rights for a pre-clinical cancer drug to Merck Serono, the drug discovery arm of Germany's Merck KGaA [Xetra: MRK]. To date, BeiGene has been in the news for acquiring China rights to western-developed drugs. But in this case, BeiGene discovered the second-generation BRAF inhibitor itself. According to BeiGene, the compound could begin clinical trials in China later this year. That means BeiGene, which was founded in 2010, will have completed China preclinical development in the remarkably short time of three years.
Valeant Pharma (NYSE: VRX), Canada's largest drugmaker, bought Bausch & Lomb for $8.7 billion, acquiring a substantial portfolio of eye care products, and also a sales foothold in China (see story). Valeant said it would leverage B&L's China marketing organization to bring its own products to the PRC.
Tongjitang Chinese Medicines will be bought by Winteam Pharma (HK: 570) at a price of $393 million. Both companies focus on TCM drugs for mainland China markets. Two years ago, Tongjitang was taken private at a $138 million valuation by Xiaochun Wang, Tongjitang's President/CEO, and Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196; HK: 2196). Earlier this year, Sinopharm bought a 57% stake in Winteam for $252 million.
Qiagen (NSDQ: QGEN), a Dutch molecular diagnostics company that provides sample and assay technologies, will set up a translational medicine R&D JV with Suzhou's BioBay Life Science Park (see story). The JV will provide discovery and validation of biomarkers from which it will create companion diagnostics for the Chinese market.
Trials and Approvals
Aslan Pharma reported that ASLAN001 was effective in a Phase II trial among heavily pre-treated gastric cancer patients. ASLAN001, a small-molecule pan-HER inhibitor, reduced cell proliferation and cell survival in gastric tumors that either coexpressed EGFR and HER2 or were HER2 amplified. Aslan, a Singapore based biopharma that in-licenses clinical-stage assets, acquired global rights to the drug from Array BioPharma (NSDQ: ARRY) in 2011.
Sinovac Biotech (NSDQ: SVA) announced the Beijing Drug Administration has accepted the company's filing of a New Drug Application for its novel enterovirus 71 vaccine (see story). The vaccine, which completed its Phase III trial in March, achieved a 95% efficacy against Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.
Beijing Vigoo Biological, a vaccine-focused subsidiary of China National Biotec Group, said its enterovirus 71 vaccine was effective in up to 90% of test subjects. The company carried out a large Phase III trial in 10,245 children, aged 6 to 35 months. Half were randomized to receive vaccine. EV71, which strikes mainly children under the age of five, is a major cause of hand, foot and mouth disease.
Revenues from the distributors of China's pharmaceuticals topped the one trillion RMB level for the first time in 2012, hitting 1.12 trillion RMB ($181.2 billion) in all. The total represented an increase of 18.5% over the previous year, which was down slightly from the 23% rate of growth in 2011. The results were reported by China's Ministry of Commerce.