China Biotech Week in Review: New Investments for a New Year

by: ChinaBio Today
Life science in China kicked off the new year with announcements of new investments, indicating the financial pressure for growth has carried over into 2010. There was also news on other fronts, as companies continued to develop their product portfolios.

Beijing has established a 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) fund to encourage investment by venture capital and private equity firms in companies located in Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park (see story). As further inducements, Beijing will allow foreign PE firms to apply for the same preferential tax treatment accorded to domestic firms, and it set lower capital requirements for foreign investment firms.

China Medicine Corporation (OTCPK:CHME) signed a deal that raises $69.6 million in new capital from One Equity Partners, the private equity investment subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase (see story). It is the first investment for One Equity Partners in China. China Medicine will use the first portion of the money to complete its $21.5 million acquisition of Guangzhou LifeTech Pharma, a transaction that helps move China Medicine from a distribution company into an integrated company with its own drugs to sell.

GL Biochem, a Shanghai peptide company, has signed a definitive agreement to complete a reverse merger with Commonwealth Biotechnologies (NSDQ: CBTE) (see story). GL Biochem is the world’s largest supplier of research-grade peptide products and peptide reagents. Its single shareholder will own 78% of the new company’s stock, post-merger. Dr. Hongyan Xu, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the GL Group, will become Chairman and CEO of CBI, and GL Biochem will control five of seven seats on the Board of Directors.

China Aoxing Pharma (OTC:CAXG) completed a Phase II trial of a TCM product, oral TJSL capsules, for primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) in adult women (see story). China Aoxing expects to report top-line results in the coming weeks. China Aoxing bought the drug in May 2009 from Professor X. Tian, a well-known China gynecologist for an undisclosed amount. The Phase II trial was already underway at the time of purchase.

3SBio Inc. (NSDQ: SSRX) applied to the SFDA to begin a registrational clinical trial for Feraheme™ (ferumoxytol) Injection, an IV treatment for iron deficiency anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (see story). 3SBio licensed the China rights for the drug from AMAG Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ: AMAG) last May, shortly before AMAG was granted approval for the product by the US FDA.

Mindray Medical (NYSE: MR), the Shenzhen-located maker of medical devices, reported it exceeded its new product introduction goal for 2009 by releasing ten products, bringing its total product count to 70 (see story). It expects to launch an additional seven to ten new products in 2010.

Shanghai ChemPartner, a subsidiary of CRO ShangPharma, was named to the 2009 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 China list, claiming 3rd place among the fastest-growing high tech companies in China (see story). ChemPartner was the only life science company in the top 10. The award was based on ChemPartner's three-year revenue growth from 2006 to 2008.

China Sky One Medical (NSDQ: CSKI) has migrated to the NASDAQ Global Select Market, the NASDAQ market with the most stringent listing standards of NASDAQ’s three tiers (see story). To qualify, China Sky One had to meet financial benchmarks that measure market value, liquidity and earnings, as well as corporate governance standards. China Sky One portrayed the move as recognition of the company’s solid financial performance over the past four years.

The Ministry of Health reported 648 deaths from H1N1 flu in mainland China as of December 31, 2009 (see story). Of the 120,000 cases of swine flu reported so far, 110,000 people have recovered from the disease. The good news about the epidemic is that the number of new cases is declining. However, the number of serious cases and deaths continues to rise.

Disclosure: none.