China Biotech In Review: Simcere Raises $65 Million By Selling Boda Subsidiary

Includes: ENMD, SCLN, SCR, TMO
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Simcere Pharma (NYSE: SCR) of Nanjing agreed to sell its 99.99% stake in Jilin Boda Pharma for 400 million RMB ($65 million) (see story). Simcere bought an initial 51% ownership of Boda in 2007 for $15 million. Both Boda and Simcere produce injectible edaravone drugs that act as neuroprotectives following a stroke. The Boda sale has taken place after Simcere's Chairman offered $503 million to take Simcere private, and the $65 million in sale proceeds will render the take-private deal easier to finance.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) invested $9.5 million into a new China Innovation Center in Shanghai (see story). The US maker of lab equipment expects between 200 and 300 engineers over the next two to three years. The Innovation Center devotes over 30,000 square feet to biology laboratories, design-verification-test and application laboratories. Another 10,000 square feet is reserved for training.

EntreMed (NSDQ: ENMD), a US pharma with a Beijing subsidiary, has filed an application with the CFDA to conduct a clinical trial in China for ENMD-2076 (see story). The novel drug is EntreMed's lead drug candidate. Currently, the drug is undergoing a Phase II trial at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital for advanced/metastatic sarcoma. EntreMed wants to expand its effort into a global trial to implement its plans for integrated development of the drug.

Shanghai BravoBio Co. in-licensed China rights to RotaShield®, an oral rotavirus vaccine that was developed by the International Medica Foundation of the US. The vaccine is the first that can be given to newborns, and it requires only two doses - at two days and two months. Other rotavirus vaccines can't begin administration until the child is two months old.

SciClone Pharma (NSDQ: SCLN), a US company that brings western-style drugs to China, has licensed exclusive rights to a treatment for peripheral arterial disease from Taiwan Liposome Company (see story). The product, called ProFlow®, is a novel lipid formulation of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), a vasodilator and platelet inhibitor. The agreement calls for up to $39.5 million in development and sales milestones.

Biohit Oyj [HEL: BIOBV] of Finland and Anhui Wisdom-Win Investment Co. will establish a JV to make and sell Biohit's GastroPanel kits for the China market. GastroPanel is a non-invasive test for low levels of acid in the stomach. Wisdom-Win will invest 20 million RMB ($3.2 million) for 60% ownership of the JV, while Biohit Oyj's technology, valued at 13 million RMB, will earn it a 40% stake.

Shanghai Pharmaceuticals (SHA: 601607) purchased another 11% of Shanghai Sunway Biotech, bringing its total holdings in the company to 81%. In 2005, Sunway was granted CFDA approval of a gene therapy treatment, using an oncolytic adenovirus as a delivery vehicle, for late-stage refractory nasopharyngeal cancer. Shanghai Pharma paid 1 million RMB ($160,000) for its purchase of the 11% stake.

Industry Insights

According to the China Daily, more than 71% of respondents in China's healthcare and life science industries plan to hire more staff in Q3. This expansion runs against a general decline in China. The latest Hudson Report, for example, shows overall hiring is trending lower. Their index, which measures employers' hiring intentions for Q3, dropped to the lowest level in three years. Plans to reduce headcount are on the rise, the company said. The days when China could boast of full employment may be ending.

Featured Companies

Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA: 600196: HK: 02196) was one of ten pharmas included in a list of "China's Most Innovative Pharmaceutical Enterprises". In announcing the award, Fosun emphasized its internal research, mentioning that its malaria treatment was recently accepted by WHO and that a clinical trial of its transdermal patch for Parkinson's Disease was approved by the CFDA.

Disclosure: none.