China Biotech Week In Review: Roche's China Strategy

Includes: BMY, NVO, RHHBY
by: ChinaBio Today
Big Pharma in China

When asked to describe Roche’s (OTCQX:RHHBY) strategy for China, Dr. Joe McCracken, Global Head of Business Development for the Swiss pharma, disarmingly answered, “We don’t have one.” But he didn’t mean Roche has no strategy for China. “China is part of our global strategy and everything China does is related to our global strategy,” he explained in an exclusive interview with ChinaBio Today in Shanghai (see article).

Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE: NVO), the Danish pharma that specializes in diabetes drugs, does not want to grow in China through M&A (see article). It plans to continue its emphasis on developing its own innovative drugs. To that end, Novo Nordisk has previously announced investments in its Beijing R&D center and Tianjin manufacturing plant, while it is also working to increase diabetes education in China.

Deals and Transactions

China National Biotechnology Group [CNBG] will definitely stage an IPO in Hong Kong, according to Zhiping Song, Chairman of the company’s parent, China’s largest pharmaceutical company, SinoPharm Group. CNBG, which will change its name to China Biotech, is comprised of six institutes of biological products. So far, no predictions of the size of the offering have been published.

Aslan Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical startup based in Singapore, has entered a strategic partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) (see article). Aslan will fund development of a BMS oncology candidate, BMS-777607, following a pre-agreed BMS program. BMS-777607 is a small molecule inhibitor of the MET receptor tyrosine kinase for treatment of solid tumors. The compound is expected to target gastric and lung cancer.

Alios BioPharma of South San Francisco has licensed technology that targets influenza from Versitech Limited, the technology transfer arm of the University of Hong Kong. The technology may lead to novel medications that treat the flu through a “novel chemical matter that targets a unique component of the influenza virus life cycle.”

ImmunoBiology Ltd (ImmBio), a Cambridge, UK vaccine company, has joined with Sinopharm Vaccine Institute, a part of CNBG (China National Biotech Group), to co-develop T-BioVax, ImmBio’s proprietary TB vaccine. The goal of the partnership is to bring the T-BioVax vaccine through SFDA approval and market it in China initially.

Government and Regulatory

The US FDA is instituting a new IT system that tracks the source of drugs to help control the risks of drugs manufactured in foreign countries. For countries like China, the new system asks companies to increase their cooperation with the US pharmaceutical regulator. Drug companies whose products are well documented will be rewarded with expedited customs clearance.

China Innovation

A China startup is on the verge of producing a biotech version of human serum albumin [HSA], a plasma protein, from rice. According to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the process produces HSA that is functionally equivalent to blood-derived albumin, a substance that is always in short supply. The lead author of the study, Daichang Yang, PhD of Wuhan University, has co-founded Healthgen Biotechnology Co., Ltd. to commercialize the breakthrough.

Disclosure: none.

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