China Biotech Week in Review: New Deals in China Life Science

by: ChinaBio Today

Three of big pharma’s biggest companies, Merck (NYSE: MRK), Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), have banded together to create an Asian not-for-profit company that will construct a pharmacogenomic cancer database in Singapore (see story). The database will compile its information using 2,000 tissue samples from patients with lung and gastric cancer. The information will be made available to researchers with the goal of developing new treatments for gastric and lung cancers, which are prevalent in Asia.

China's Ministry of Finance (MoF) announced Friday that the central government had authorized the spending of 37 billion RMB ($5.5 billion) as part of its larger 850 billion RMB healthcare reform, announced last year (see story). The new money will help give medical care access to lower-income citizens.

WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE: WX) plans to continue its growth by expanding into biotech, safety evaluation and manufacturing (see story). In fact, to make the growth a reality, the company invests about $60 million each year in capital expenditures. "The majority of our clients are big international firms, with Pfizer and Merck ranking as the top two,” said Edward Hu, COO of the WuXi PharmaTech in a recent interview.

WuXi PharmaTech also reported its Suzhou non-clinical safety testing facility received full accreditation from the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International ((AAALAC)), an important step in WuXi’s goal of gaining international acceptance of the new lab (see story).

China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: CO) has acquired a 20% equity interest in Shandong Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) for $20.5 million (see story). China Cord Blood already projects an investment yield in this year of 5% or about $1 million from the purchase. More importantly, China Cord Blood also has right of first refusal on future equity interests in SCBB. China Cord Blood raised $20 million in a secondary offering late last year.

Fosun Pharma will invest $9.7 million into Biosino Bio-Technology and Science in a move to increase its presence in the in-vitro diagnostic sector (see story). After the transaction is completed, Fosun will hold approximately 24% of Biosino’s outstanding shares. The shares were priced at HK$2.36 (US$.30), about a 20% discount to Biosino’s recent trading price.

Beijing Shenghong Biotechnology Co. has paid 28 million RMB ($4.1 million) to Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical Holding Co. (SHEX: 600211) for four new drug projects and research findings (see story). According to an announcement, Tibet Rhodiola and a subsidiary company have spent 24.7 million RMB on the products. Shenghong will also assume debt associated with the drugs, though the amount of debt was not specified.

H Lundbeck A/S [CPH: LUN], a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Denmark, expanded its Asian sales agreement with Teva Pharma (NSDQ: TEVA) to include Azilect (rasagiline), a treatment for Parkinson’s disease (see story). The agreement gives Teva the right to market Azilect in China and five other Asian countries. Lundbeck will be responsible for conducting clinical trials of the drug and obtaining SFDA approval.

China Aoxing (OTC:CAXG) will collaborate with QRxPharma Limited (ASX: QRX and OTCQX: QRXPY), a clinical stage Australian pharma, to develop MoxDuo®IV for the China market (see story). MoxDuoIV is an IV formulation of QRxPharma's patented morphine and oxycodone Dual-Opioid™ technology for the acute treatment of moderate to severe pain.

Dishman Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, the Indian company that offers contract research and manufacturing services (CRAMS), said its new Shanghai manufacturing facility will begin operations almost a year behind schedule (see story). Originally, Dishman expected to have the facility on line in October 2009, but it now expects that all government inspections will be completed in August/September 2010.

Disclosure: none.