China Biotech Week in Review: Deals and Developments

 |  Includes: CHDX, CRL, KURU, WX
by: ChinaBio Today

Sino Biopharmaceutical (HK: 1177) placed 185 million of new shares with its controlling shareholder, Tse Ping, raising $79 million (see story). Tse has sold an equal number of shares to third-party investors. The company said it would use the new capital for a single acquisition, for which discussions have been underway since January. Those discussions remain at an early stage, according to a filing.

Chindex International (NSDQ: CHDX) has entered a medical device distribution JV with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group (SHA: 600196) (see story). If all conditions are met, Fosun will purchase $30 million of equity in Chindex, about 10% of the total, which will bring its ownership of Chindex up to 25%. Some details of the arrangement remain to be worked out.

Charles River Labs (NYSE: CRL) defended its $1.6 billion acquisition of WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE: WX) by repeating its long-term strategic rationale for the transaction: the combined companies will be able to offer “full service, early-stage drug development on a global basis” to the world’s pharmaceutical companies (see story). The justification was made in an effort to quiet criticism of the deal made by Jana Partners, an activist hedge fund.

BioSpectrum has released the 2010 Asia Pacific Survey of the life science industry (see story). With the general warning that the survey was limited to publicly listed companies, BioSpectrum announced that Asia Pacific’s life science industry grew 3.4% in 2009, producing total revenues of $111 billion. China was the biggest contributor, with a 32% share.

Kun Run Biotechnology (OTCPK:KURU), a China manufacturer of peptide-based and small molecule drugs, received SFDA manufacturing approval for Entecavir, an oral treatment for hepatitis B (see story). Entecavir inhibits reverse transcription, DNA replication and transcription in the viral replication process. Baraclude, which is Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (NYSE: BMY) version of the drug, was approved by the US FDA in 2005 for hepatitis B treatment.

The Drug Controller General of India prohibited the importation of APIs from 10 China companies because the companies had not submitted good manufacturing practices certificates (see story). India’s only external API suppliers are located in China. The products involved in the ban are used to make anti-infectives and painkillers.

China scientists have developed a vaccine that prevents infection by Helicobacter pylori (see story). H. pylori is a bacterium that lives in the stomach and causes duodenal and gastric ulcers and it has been linked to stomach cancer. Developed by Chong Qing Kang Wei Biotechnology, the vaccine is expected to be commercialized in 2011.

Corruption at the SFDA apparently remains a problem. Zhang Jingli, who has served as Deputy Director of the agency since 2003, has been fired from his post and is being investigated for suspected disciplinary violations, according to sources with the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (see story). The charge and investigating body suggest that graft and corruption are the unspecified issue.

In Friday’s stock market activity, Hutchison China MediTech [AIM: HCM] rose 10% even though the company did not release any news. That kind of action makes us wonder if some kind of major announcement is brewing in the very near future.

Disclosure: none.