China Biotech In Review: Cardinal Health Uses M&A To Add Drug Distribution Reach

by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH), a major US drug distributor, says it has spent $120 million to acquire six China drug distributors during the last year, paying less than $30 million for each one (see story). Cardinal's CFO Jeff Henderson said the goal with each transaction was not revenue volume but greater geographical reach. The acquisition targets were not named. In 2010, Cardinal made a dramatic entry into China's drug distribution sector by purchasing Zuellig China for $458 million.

3SBio Inc. (NSDQ: SSRX) of Shenyang has agreed to be bought by Dr. Jing Lou, who is the company's Chairman and CEO, and a CITIC Private Equity company (see story). They will pay non-affiliated shareholders $15.40 per ADS, which values the company at $339 million. The offer was originally made in September of last year at the slightly lower price of $15 per ADS. The transaction is expected to close in Q2 of 2013.

Neusoft Corporation (SHA: 600718), a China software company, plans to buy the 51% of its high-end medical imaging JV that it does not own from Philips, its current partner. Neusoft has a medical imaging subsidiary, Neusoft Medical, headquartered in Shenyang which was Neusoft's marketing arm for its share of the JV's products. The JV was established in 2004 and funded with $29.6 million in initial capital. All the IP developed by the JV will continue to be owned jointly by the two partners.

Zheijang Hisun Pharma (SHA: 600267) will not pursue its option to secure China rights for ThermoDox, the heat-triggered chemotherapy treatment for liver cancer, from Celsion (NSDQ: CLSN) (see story). As the first part of the process, Hisun paid $5 million toward the option about one month ago. Last week, Celsion announced ThermoDox did not meet its primary endpoint in a global Phase III trial. The two parties will examine the data from the China sites to see if there is any reason to seek approval of the drug in China.

Grandhope Biotech (SHE: 300238) of Guangzhou has in-licensed China rights to an autologous stem cell tendon-repair technology from Orthocell Limited of Australia. The technology harvests healthy tendon cells from the patient, cultures them, and then percutaneously implants a mixture of the cells and a scaffolding matrix to the damaged tendon. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CVie Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Lee's Pharma (HK: 00950), has in-licensed China rights to Kalbitor, a treatment for hereditary angioedema, from Dyax Corp. (NSDQ: DYAX) of the US (see story). CVie will be responsible for securing regulatory approval of the drug in China. It has been marketed in the US since 2010. Lee's markets western drugs for sale in mainland China; it also has an in-house R&D drug development operation.

Company News

Janssen Pharmaceutical, a division of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), has officially opened its China R&D Center in Shanghai Fenglin Life Science Park (see story). The lab is located in the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. It will collaborate with the SIOC, Fudan University School of Medicine and other institutions to conduct earl-stage research into three major disease areas: immunology, oncology and infectious disease.

Trials and Approvals

Solasia, a Japan-headquartered company, has received a Clinical Trial Permit from the SFDA for China trials of Sancuso, the company's transdermal patch product for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Solasia in-licensed rights to Sancuso for Southeast Asia in 2008 from a British pharma, ProStrakan. Solasia will begin a trial of the product immediately and expects to file a New Drug Application in China during Q4 of 2013.

Disclosure: none.