China Biotech In Review: China's Rx Market To Total $315 Billion In 2020

Aug. 04, 2013 2:35 AM ETJNJ, WX, GE, GILD
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Industry Insights

GlobalData, a London consultancy, projects China's prescription drug market will expand at a 26% compound annual growth rate to $315 billion in 2020, up from $48 billion last year. One of the drivers is China's investment in drug R&D. GlobalData also believes the growth will take place because of (not in spite of) price pressures being exerted by China's government. By increasing affordability, less-expensive products will expand the market and more than make up for lower unit prices, says the company.

Deals and Financings

aTyr Pharma, a San Diego startup with a laboratory in Hong Kong, completed a $49 million financing. The company is developing a novel class of protein drugs for rare immune disorders. aTyr has a subsidiary in Hong Kong named Pangu BioPharma, which came into being through an innovative partnership between aTyr and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Daewoong Pharma, the largest manufacturer of prescription drugs in South Korea, will pay $16 million to acquire Liaoning Baifeng of China. Daewoong will invest another $16 million to bring Baifeng's facilities up to EU standards by 2017. It plans to produce cephalosporin antibiotics for China and the rest of Asia at Baifeng.

Foundation Medicine, a US company that has developed a comprehensive genomic test for cancer abnormalities, made an initial filing for an $86.3 million IPO (see story). Foundation is one of the companies that has received an equity investment from WuXi PharmaTech's (NYSE: WX) venture fund. Foundation is the second of WuXi's investments to seek an IPO - Agios completed a $106 million offering last month.

Shanghai Pharma (SHA: 601607; HK: 2607) entered a translational medicine "framework" agreement with Secondary Military Medical University. Shanghai Pharma will provide research funding on a yearly basis to support cooperative R&D that will develop new medicines and medical devices.

Trials and Approvals

Takeda Pharma (TO: 4502), Japan's largest drugmaker, has been granted CFDA approval for Nesina (alogliptin), a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Nesina is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor (DPP-4). The DPP-4 drugs increase a person's insulin response and offer both a low-side-effect profile and the convenience of oral administration.

InSightec Ltd, an Israeli medical device maker, reported that its ExAblate System was approved for China marketing by the CFDA (see story). ExAblate is a focused ultrasound device combined with continuous MRI imaging that is used to treat uterine fibroids non-invasively. GE Healthcare (NYSE: GE) is majority owner of InSightec and contributed 90% of its $31 million C funding last year.

Government and Regulatory

China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) invalidated the patent for Viread, a treatment for hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS developed by Gilead Sciences (NSDQ: GILD) (see story). SIPO agreed with Aurisco, a China API maker, that Viread was not a novel drug because its active ingredient was discovered in the Czech Republic in 1985. Gilead had already lost patent protection for the drug in India and Brazil. Earlier this year, Gilead made an undisclosed settlement with Teva Pharma (NYSE: TEVA) to end its challenge to Viread's US patent.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) was ordered to pay a fine in China for monopolistic practices, in a suit stemming from a 2008 incident (see story). Two of J&J's subsidiaries were found guilty of enforcing price controls on a distributor. When the distributor won a public tender to sell J&J sutures - at a price below J&J's stated minimum - J&J refused to supply product to the distributor. An appeals court awarded the distributor, Rainbow Medical, $86,472. Rainbow had asked for a much larger $2.3 million.

Disclosure: none.

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China has become the #2 pharmaceutical market years ahead of projections and continues to be the fastest growing market in the world. China is $50 billion dollars a year into life science and healthcare development through over 160 government funding programs. VC investment, M&A transactions and cross-border partnering deals in China were all up significantly in 2012. ChinaBio® Today focuses exclusively on the rapidly evolving life science industry in China, including biotech, pharma, medical device, diagnostics, services and tools. From our offices in Shanghai and San Diego, our industry analysts provide daily news, commentary and analysis on public and private China life science companies, as well as events and global issues affecting the China market. Visit: ChinaBio Today ( ChinaBio LLC (

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