China Biotech In Review: Mindray Medical Buys U.S. Ultrasound Company

Includes: BLRX, BMY, GSK, MR, SCR
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Mindray Medical (NYSE: MR) of Shenzhen will pay $105 million to acquire Zonare Medical Systems, a California high-end ultrasound machine maker (see story). Last year, Zonare had revenues of $64 million. Founded in 1999, Zonare claims its technology provides sharper images than competing machines. Ultrasound comprises one of Mindray's three major divisions. Mindray's management emphasized that Zonare's US sales force was a major benefit of the transaction.

Simcere Pharma (NYSE: SCR) announced a third drug development collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) (see story). For the first time, the project involves a biologic molecule: a subcutaneous formulation of Orencia, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Orencia is already approved for use in the US, Europe and Japan. Simcere will be responsible for obtaining China approval of the drug. The two companies will co-market Orencia in China, sharing profits and losses.

Jiangsu Chia-tai Tianqing Pharma in-licensed China rights to BL-8030, an oral treatment for hepatitis C virus, from an Israeli pharma, BioLineRx (NSDQ: BLRX) (see story). CTTQ makes chemical drugs and TCM products, with liver disease a specialty for the company. BioLine will be eligible for up to $30 million in upfront and milestone payments.

Alliance Boots, the UK drug wholesaler and pharmacy chain, wants to do deals with local partners to expand its presence in China. "We want to be a national player in our industry in China," Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, said recently. To accomplish that goal, "We need a counterpart willing to deal with us and we are open to do any kind of collaboration with local companies. We are absolutely open," he added.

FortuneRock (China) Ltd., a privately held biopharmaceutical company located in Beijing, has sold non-exclusive US rights for a patented technology to an unnamed global top 10 pharmaceutical company. FortuneRock holds patents in the US and China for its novel recombinant human serum albumin fusion protein drug that is a long-acting treatment for neutropenia. FortuneRock is currently conducting a China Phase I/II trial of the drug in cancer patients with neutropenia. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Company News

According to GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), a scientific paper published by members of its China R&D staff contained "misrepresentations" (see story). The British biopharma has fired Jiangwu Zhang, the head of its China R&D operation, who was listed as one of the authors. The 2010 Nature Medicine article investigated the role of interleukin-7 in autoimmune diseases. As a result of the scandal, GSK has suspended Phase I tests of GSK2618960, an experimental medicine for multiple sclerosis that was based in part on the article's early-stage research.

Disclosure: none.

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