China Biotech Week In Review: Pfizer's Attempt To Acquire AstraZeneca Could Run Into Trouble

Includes: AZN, CCM, PFE, SVA, WX
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Zhejiang Hisun Pharma [SHA: 600267] will collaborate with Ambrx, a San Diego clinical-stage biotech, to develop bispecific cancer treatments based on Ambrx's technology. Hisun will own China rights to the products, while Ambrx will retain ex-China rights and receive royalties on any China sales. Hisun will manufacture the product to cGMP standards for clinical and commercial supplies on a global basis. Ambrx's technology, which it calls Protein Medicinal Chemistry™, optimizes proteins and antibodies to create long-acting proteins, bi-specifics and antibody drug conjugates.

Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) attempt to acquire AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), offering close to $100 billion, could run into trouble in China, where the Ministry of Finance and Commerce could rule that the deal violates anti-trust standards (see story). Pfizer and AstraZeneca are the No. 1 and No. 2 multinational suppliers of prescription drugs in China. Of course, this is only speculation about a transaction that is, so far, little more than vapor.

Sinovac Biotech (NSDQ: SVA), a China vaccine company, licensed rights to a polio vaccine from Intravacc (Institute for Translational Vaccinology) of the Netherlands (see story). Sinovac agreed to develop and commercialize the Sabin Inactivated Polio Vaccine (sIPV) for distribution to China and other countries. The agreement calls for Sinovac to conduct clinical trials, obtain regulatory approval and launch the sIPV vaccine in China. In addition, Sinovac must have the capacity to make (or find a contract manufacturer for) at least 20 million doses annually.

Trials and Approvals

Hutchison MediPharma, the drug discovery subsidiary of Chi-Med [AIM: HCM], has begun a double-blind Phase II trial of fruquintinib (HMPL-013) as a third-line treatment of colorectal cancer in China. Fruquintinib is a small-molecule inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors. In 2013, Lilly (NYSE: LLY) in-licensed China rights to fruquintinib in a deal that could be worth up to $86.5 million. Hutchison expects the drug to be effective against solid-tumor cancers.

TaiGen Biotech [TWO: 4157] of Taiwan said the CFDA review of Taigexyn®, a novel antibiotic for community-acquired pneumonia, is proceeding smoothly. The company is discussing price with China authorities, according to Ming-chu Hsu, CEO and chairman of TaiGen. Two years ago, TaiGen out-licensed China rights for Taigexyn to Zhejiang Medicine. TaiGen anticipates the antibiotic will generate $1.6 million of revenues in China, once it receives final marketing approval later this year.

Company News

WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE: WX), China's largest CRO/CMO, announced it has broken ground on a new facility to manufacture cell therapies in Philadelphia (see story). The new facility expands WuXi's existing Philadelphia facility. It will include 45,000 square feet of clinical and commercial manufacturing space, an addition to the existing 16,000-square-foot cGMP cell therapy manufacturing facility. The new facility is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2015.

Concord Medical Services (NYSE: CCM) will build a 400-bed cancer specialty hospital as part of the Shanghai New Hongqiao International Medical Center (see story). Concord operates China's largest network of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging centers with 144 centers in 81 hospitals. In 2010, Concord opened its first specialty cancer center in Xi'an as part of Chang'an Hospital, a full-service private hospital. The company says it plans to expand its network of cancer specialty hospitals in China.

Disclosure: none.