China Biotech Week in Review: Beijing Start-Up Reports 'Large' Investment from Merck

 |  Includes: AZN, MRK, PFE, SIPH
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

BeiGene, a Beijing startup that focuses on oncology drugs, announced an initial investment from Merck (NYSE: MRK) (see story). The exact size of the investment was not disclosed. But John Oyler, CEO of BeiGene and a Co-Founder, told ChinaBio Today in an exclusive interview that the Merck commitment is “large.” Best of all, said Oyler, the agreement with Merck allows BeiGene to raise money from other pharmas and investors. That’s important, because BeiGene, with its ambitious plans, will need to be a champion fund raiser.

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) will purchase a $50 million stake in Shanghai Pharmaceutical’s (SHA: 601607) upcoming Hong Kong IPO (see story). Pfizer was one of four companies announced to be major investors in the offering, which is now expected to raise as much as $2.2 billion. That’s $1 billion more than anticipated when the transaction was announced in September of 2010.

Crown BioScience, Inc., a cancer-focused CRO, has closed a $28.8 million Series C round of financing. CrownBio is headquartered in California with labs in Beijing and Taicang City. The company will use the proceeds to expand services in its core cancer drug discovery and translational oncology services, and it will also fund initiatives that expand the company’s services into other therapeutic areas.

Sinocom Pharmaceutical (SIPH), a distributor of pharmaceutical products to third and fourth tier cities in Central-Eastern China, announced it will conduct an IPO on the Nasdaq Global Market exchange. The company plans to offer 15.8 million shares from selling stockowners, representing about 18% of the firm’s capitalization. In 2009, the selling shareholders received the stock for investing $15 million in Sinocom, which the company used to build a warehouse. The company hopes to raise as much as $57.5 million in the offering, implying a price of $3.64.

C3 Jian Inc., a Los Angeles company that is developing a peptide-based anti-cavity mouthwash, has agreed to set up a joint clinical research center with the West China School of Stomatology at Sichuan University. Using cell signaling technology, C3 Jian has developed a Specifically-Targeted Antimicrobial Peptide (STAMP) in mouthwash form. The STAMP is designed to inhibit cavities by preserving beneficial microflora in the mouth.

Big Pharma in China

AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) has been partnering with China companies since it first established a China presence in 1993. The company makes use of local innovative scientific talent to help drive its own R&D efforts, allowing the company to achieve more than it can alone. In an interview, Steve Yang, PhD, Vice-President of AstraZeneca and Head of R&D for Asia, discusses the company's strategy for China research in light of the country's exploding pharmaceutical market growth (see story).

Trials and Approvals

Beijing Second Pharmaceutical Co. was granted FDA approval for US use of Amlodipine Besylate, a long-acting calcium channel blocker that is prescribed for hypertension and angina. The drug is a generic version of Pfizer’s Norvasc. According to the company, the approval is the first time the FDA has approved an oral, solid-dose product from a China-owned pharma. BSPC will market the product through a US-based distribution partner.

Disclosure: none.