Last week was an active one in the world of China life science. The Thanksgiving holiday in the US may have put a damper on the number of stories (it’s not clear why the slowdown happens, though it’s very apparent that it does). Nevertheless, the holiday was not enough to stop a number of very significant announcements. Most importantly there was news of additional R&D investments, a new private equity fund and a China life science company IPO filing.
These announcements are signs of a vibrant business environment. The upshot seems to be that, one year after a devastating financial crisis, a significant recovery seems to be taking place. As 2009 flows into 2010, there are a lot of reasons to expect the theme for China life science next year will be expansion.
Merck Serono, a division of Germany’s Merck KGaA (MRK), will build a global R&D center in Beijing, China, spending $225 million over the next four years (see story). The center, which will eventually house 200 employees, will be the fourth major R&D center for the company around the globe. The Beijing center will be tasked with meeting unmet needs in China’s public health system.
Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) will expand its China R&D operations by adding facilities in central and western China, according to Reuters (see story). The company will build a new clinical R&D center in Wuhan, which will support global clinical drug programs, including Phase I-IV clinical trials. Pfizer did not announce the size of its capital commitment to the new R&D center.
Kunwu Jiuding Capital Co., Ltd., a private equity firm headquartered in Beijing, has launched a PE fund specifically focused on China’s pharmaceutical industry (see story). Jiuding Capital says the fund, known as Kunwu Jiuding Pharmaceutical Investment Management Co., Ltd., is the first PE fund devoted to the sector. Jiuding Capital expects Fund I to have 500 million RMB ($74 million) fund. Raising the money will not be a problem as committed capital already exceeds one billion RMB ($150 million).
China Nuokang Bio-Pharmaceutical, a company focused on hematological and cardiovascular drugs, will offer 4.5 million ADSs on the Nasdaq exchange at a price between $10 and $12 (see story). The mid-point of the range represents a $50 million debut for Nuokang. The company's main product, the blood clotting agent Baquting, commands a 38% share of its market.
Sinovac Biotech (NSDQ: SVA) announced a new Joint Venture, Sinovac (Dalian) Vaccine Technology Co., Ltd., which will research, develop and produce human vaccines (see story). Sinovac will contribute its vaccine expertise and capital, while Dalian Jin Gang Group will throw in land use rights, manufacturing facilities and established operating infrastructure. Representatives of Sinovac will fill the major operational posts in the JV.
Shanghai Biolaxy received an SFDA approval of an investigational new drug application (IND) for its oral insulin product, Nodlin (see story). Nodlin uses a patented bio-adhesive nano-particle oral delivery technology (NOD) to transport insulin through the stomach to the blood stream. No orally administered insulin drugs are approved currently. With a successful IND, Shanghai Biolaxy can begin clinical trials of the product.
China Sky One Medical (NSDQ: CSKI) expects to have final SFDA approval for two more diagnostic kits by the end of 2009 (see story). One is a diagnostic test for Human Prostate Specific Antigen, an indicator of prostate related diseases, and the other is a determination kit for Luteinizing Hormone, a diagnosis test for female sterility. China Sky One plans to begin production of the two tests in 2010. They will join the company’s relatively new diagnostic testing division, which currently consists of three kits and contributed 6% of the company’s Q3 revenues.
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and Gilead Sciences (NSDQ: GILD) agreed on an Asian marketing plan for their jointly owned treatment for hepatitis B, Viread® (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) (see story). GSK will have exclusive rights to commercialize the drug for hepatitis B in China. Gilead will own exclusive rights in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Each company will pay royalties to the other on sales in their own territory.