China Biotech in Review: The Business of China Life Science

by: ChinaBio Today

Most of the stories emanating from the world of China life science had to do with the business side of the segment: an IPO, a possible takeover, new capital and earnings – lots of earnings. In addition, there were cross-border deals that will introduce new products to China and China products to the rest of the world, plus new product approvals and China-France collaborative research.

Cheezheng Tibetan Medicine Co. has been approved to IPO on the Shenzhen exchange (see story). It will offer up to 41 million shares in the deal. The approval gives evidence that the IPO market in China is continuing to open for life science companies, following the almost year-long absence of any IPO activity as worldwide financial markets imploded. Established in 1992, Cheezheng Tibetan was the first pharmaceutical company in Tibet to be granted GMP certification. The company offers products that are drawn from the practices of traditional Tibetan Medicine.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. (SHSE: 600196) now owns 24% of Tongjitang Chinese Medicines (NYSE: TCM) (see story). The large China pharmaceutical company has been steadily buying shares since October of 2008. Fosun maintained that it is buying shares only as an investment. But in the China press, the purchase was positioned as a move by Fosun, which specializes in pharmaceutical products, into the world of TCM, where it does not have a presence. Is a merger Fosun’s ultimate goal?

China Aoxing Pharmaceutical Company (OTC:CAXG) raised $5 million by selling 5.2 million shares at a price of $.95 each (see story). The selling price was a significant 34% discount to the previously reported closing price of $1.45. In April, China Aoxing received $4.8 million for the land use rights to a parcel adjacent to the production facility of a recent acquisition. Together, the two transactions address the immediate liquidity needs of China Aoxing, which ended its Q3 on March 31 with slightly less than $1 million in cash.

S-Evans Biosciences (SEB) of Hangzhou has received an exclusive license to market and manufacture the C'elle menstrual stem cell technology developed by Cryo-Cell (OTCPK:CCEL) (see story). The rights, which are good throughout mainland China, include processing and storage of menstrual stem cells. The deal also allows SEB to conduct research using this platform to identify potential therapeutic applications for a range of diseases.

Shenzhen Mellow Hope Pharm Industrial Co., a subsidiary of Hard to Treat Diseases [Pink Sheets: HTDS], has reached an agreement to be the sole international distributor of a Recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine manufactured by North China Pharmaceutical Group (see story). NCPC is a large state-owned pharmaceutical company, with a specialty in vaccines.

Earnings were also a highlight last week. Among the major companies reporting, WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE: WX), the Shanghai CRO, announced Q2 revenues slipped slightly by 3% to $67 million, largely because of a large 69% decline in its notoriously lumpy manufacturing division (see story). Revenues from its core China Laboratory Services unit were up 26%. Net income was $14.7 million or 20 cents per ADS, a 67% increase from Q2 of last year. The numbers were higher than the average analyst estimate, and WuXi's stock price jumped 20% as a result.

Mindray Medical International Limited (NYSE: MR), the China medical device maker, reported a 10% increase in revenues during its Q2, as China sales jumped 33% (see story). Revenue from the international sales actually dropped 4%. Economic conditions in the US are clearly having an effect on the company’s ex-China sales. Nevertheless, the results were better than expected, as the company handily beat Wall Street estimates.

3SBio Inc. (NSDQ: SSRX) reported that Q2 revenues increased a steady 37% over the year-earlier quarter (see story). As further good news, the company said net income kept pace with the rise in sales, climbing 39% on a GAAP basis. To increase revenues in the future, 3SBio is constructing a new manufacturing facility, which will increase production capacity of its recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) four-fold. The company is positioning itself to supply biosimilar products to countries that allow biosimilar drugs into their markets.

Tianyin Pharmaceutical Co. (NYSEMKT:TPI) received SFDA approvals for two new products: 0.5 gram/tablet formulations of Sanqi Tablets and Yinqiao Jiedu Tablets (see story). Sanqi is a generic TCM that treats traumatic injuries and stops bleeding without causing blood stasis, while alleviating pain and reducing swelling. Also a generic TCM, Yinqiao Jiedu is used to treat acute respiratory system ailments, such as influenza and the common cold.

Researchers from Institut Pasteur in Shanghai and Paris, who have examined the genomes of rhinoviruses found in Shanghai children, found that individuals were often infected by combinations of different viruses (see story). For the first time, the researchers found numerous recombinations in the genome of the newest virus type, rhinovirus-C. Because the rhinoviruses are combining in novel ways, the study warns a more virulent strain may ultimately emerge, one that is capable of “propagation of viruses that are better fit to their host and environment.”

Disclosure: none.