China Biotech In Review: Despite Its China Problems, GlaxoSmithKline Moving Forward With Vaccine Collaboration Plan

Includes: CLSN, GSK
by: ChinaBio Today

Deals and Financings

Zhejiang Hisun Pharma (SHA: 600267) will raise up to 936 million RMB ($152.6 million) in a convertible bond offering. The company will use the money to build a manufacturing facility that will make finished drugs, in both solid form and injections. Hisun said the construction will move it further away from its traditional focus on APIs to become a pharmaceutical company with a broad range of offerings.

JenaValve Technology, a German company that has developed a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) system to replace sclerotic aortic valves, raised $62.5 million in a Series C venture round. Part of the money will be allocated for China approval of the device. Legend Capital, the Beijing-based VC/PE firm, participated in the round.

Despite its well-publicized problems in China, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) is actively moving forward with a plan to form a vaccine collaboration with a China company (see story). The company revealed it is talking to several China vaccine makers, with the goal of forming an R&D/marketing partnership. Christophe Weber, head of GSK's vaccine division, said the conversations have not been affected by the on-going bribery scandal.

Zhejiang Hisun Pharma and Celsion (NSDQ: CLSN) of the US signed a new MOU that expands their collaboration on ThermoDox®, a heat-activated liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin for primary liver cancer (see story). In June 2012, Celsion and Hisun signed a long-term commercial supply agreement for the production of ThermoDox. The new MOU calls for the two companies to conduct clinical trials of ThemoDox in China, develop new liposomal formulations, and transfer to Hisun the technology allowing commercial manufacture of ThermoDox.

Lumenis Ltd. struck a deal to distribute Visionix's ophthalmic and optometric diagnostics product line in China. Visionix's wavefront technology measures the way light passes through the eye, giving a precise diagnosis for corrective lenses or laser correction surgery. Lumenis is the world's largest medical laser company for ophthalmic, aesthetic and surgical applications. Both companies are headquartered in Israel.

Company News

BGI Shenzhen, the world's largest genomic institute, working with the Reproductive & Genetic Hospital CITIC-XIANGYA, has used Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to analyze in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryos and detect any genetic abnormalities. After sequencing, only the best embryos of the cohort are implanted, thereby increasing pregnancy rates and reducing genetically caused abnormalities. BGI says that, by improving genetic screening, preimplantation sequencing advances the practice of human assisted reproduction.

As the result of its ongoing scandal in China, GlaxoSmithKline replaced its General Manager for China, Mark Reilly, with Herve Gisserot, who had been GSK's vice president for Europe. Mr. Reilly left China in late June when authorities raided GSK's offices. The trip was described as a routine visit to headquarters, but GSK officials refused to answer whether Mr. Reilly would be subject to arrest if he returned to China. GSK said there are "no allegations of wrongdoing" against Reilly, who was not fired.

Two years ago, an internal audit of practices at GlaxoSmithKline's Shanghai R&D facility showed serious problems (see story). Researchers did not report a total of six test results of a multiple sclerosis drug. By the time the tests were discovered, the drug, ozanezumab, was already being tested in humans. When GSK officials looked at the data, they stopped testing the drug in patients with MS, though trials for Lou Gherig's disease were allowed to continue.

Disclosure: none.