Deals and Financings
Creat Group, a Beijing investment firm, has bid to acquire German blood plasma products maker Biotest (DE: BIOG) for $1.3 billion (including debt). Located south of Frankfurt, Biotest makes plasma-based products and biological drugs. It is majority owned by the founding family corporation, which will have the final say in whether the acquisition will be completed. Last year, Creat paid just over $1 billion to acquire Bio Products Lab, a UK blood plasma company.
Tencent Holdings (TCTZD) (HK: 0700), China's largest internet services company, led a $200 million series D round in Haodaifu Online, a large mobile healthcare app. Founded in 2006, Haodaifu, which translates into "good doctors," provides hospital and doctor search systems along with other services. Currently, the company has over 490,000 registered doctors from 7,500 hospitals in China signed up, with more than ten million patients in its online system. Tencent provides WeChat, a messaging service, plus online games and other offerings.
Shenzhen Royal Asset Management (SRAM) set up a joint venture with Prometic Life Sciences, a Montreal area biopharma, to develop three clinical-stage Prometic molecules in China. Prometic will contribute the three candidates to the JV, known as Prometic ChinaCo. The molecules target kidney disease, lung and liver fibrosis. SRAM will invest $23 million in 2017 ($13 million upfront) and for an initial 17% stake in the JV. It has an option to add another $10 million to bring its share of the JV up to 25% following milestones expected in 2018.
South Korea's TaiGen Biotech (TWO: 4157) will be paid $20 million for a 9% interest in a China JV by its partner YiChang HEC ChangJiang Pharma (HK: 1558). The JV, formed six months ago, is developing two direct acting anti-viral drugs, one from each company, as an all-oral, interferon-free treatment for hepatitis C in greater China. The $20 million payment was pre-planned as a $20 to $40 million transaction based on the results from TaiGen's Phase II trials of furaprevir, its contribution to the JV. At the time the JV was announced, the two parties valued the JV at $102 million. The latest payment raises its valuation to $222 million.
Kingdee Healthcare, a Guangzhou mobile healthcare company, raised $14.5 million in a Series A round led by Yongjin Group, a Shanghai investment fund, and JD.com Inc. (NASDAQ:JD). JD.com claims to be China's largest online retailer. One year ago, it paid $170 million for a 10% interest in Kingdee Healthcare's parent, Kingdee International Software Group (HK: 00268), which makes enterprise software. Kingdee Healthcare's services include offers hospital information, mobile healthcare, online hospital appointment booking and hospital resource planning.
GeneQuantum Healthcare of Suzhou raised $5.8 million to advance its development of novel antibody drug conjugates toward IND filings. Founded in 2013, GeneQuantum says its proprietary next-generation Ligase Dependent Conjugation (LDC) technology allows the company to conjugate anti-tumor cytotoxins and site-specific antibodies with a much larger therapeutic window. GeneQuantum's A round funding was led by Oriza Seed Venture Capital and joined by TF Capital.
Qilu Pharma of Jinan signed an agreement for China co-development and marketing of a biosimilar developed by Korea's Alteogen. The molecule, ALT-L2, is a biosimilar to Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Herceptin, which is used to treat breast and gastric cancers. ALT-L2 is ready to start a Phase III trial in Canada. Alteogen will transfer the technology for the drug to Qilu for China use. In February, Qilu Pharma launched a biosimilar version of AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) Iressa in China, a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.
Innovent Biologics of Suzhou formed a global deal with Korea's Hanmi Pharma (KRX: 128940) to co-develop and co-commercialize a targeted, immuno-oncology bispecific drug candidate. The two companies expect the molecule to be ready for clinical development in 2019. Hanmi will lead the antibody's development and commercialization outside China, while Innovent will be responsible for manufacturing, along with China development and commercialization. The two firms will share development costs and profits, though details were not disclosed.
Shanghai's Luqa Pharma in-licensed China rights to Macmiror (Nifuratel), a product used to treat a wide range of infections in the genito-urinary tract. Luqa specifically mentioned vulvovaginal infections due to the pathogenic micro-organisms. Luqa did not identify the maker of the product or specify other details of the transaction. A division of Spain's Almirall, Luqa in-licenses products for China, focusing on dermatological products and women's health. Earlier this month, Luqa acquired Arista Pharma, also a China dermatological company.
Hunan Zhaotai Medical Group has formed a cancer treatment JV with New Zealand's Malaghan Institute, which will conduct clinical trials on Zhaotai's CAR-T cancer drug portfolio in New Zealand. Zhaotai has already conducted clinical trials of the drugs in China, and Malaghan's tests in the "western regulatory environment" of New Zealand will serve as a bridge to other ex-China markets. New Zealand officials said the trials will speed up approvals of the new immunotherapies in New Zealand and draw additional foreign R&D investment to the nation.
Trials and Approvals
AstraZeneca (AZN) has been granted CFDA approval for Tagrisso, the company's third-generation EGFR inhibitor, as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. The oral drug was approved as a second-line treatment for EGFR T790M mutation-positive NSCLC. According to AstraZeneca, patients who are given earlier EGFR inhibitors (such as Roche's Avastin and its own Iressa) often develop the T790M mutation over time, causing resistance and providing AstraZeneca with a market for Tagrisso. The China approval was granted under CFDA priority review rules, a first for AstraZeneca in China.
Asieris Pharma, a China oncology pharma, has dosed the first bladder cancer patient in a pivotal Phase III trial of APL-1202, its lead candidate. Asieris aims to repurpose existing drugs while it develops novel, improved candidates for the same target. APL-1202, an oral inhibitor of MetAP2, is nitroxoline, a wide spectrum antibiotic that has been in use for 50 years and is now known to have an anti-angiogenesis effect. Asieris is headquartered in Taizhou's China Medical City and has its clinical trial office in Shanghai.
Athenex, a New York State-Hong Kong biopharma, was approved to start a US Phase I trial of its oral regimen of a generic chemotherapy. The trial will combine Athenex's oral topotecan and a proprietary P-glycoprotein (P-gp) inhibitor (HM30181A) that facilitates oral absorption of chemotherapies. Athenex acquired ex-Korea rights to HM30181A from Korea's Hanmi Pharma (KRX: 128940). Much of the development work for the regimen was carried out in a collaboration between Athenex and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
JHL Biotech (TWO: 6540) has dosed the first patient in a European trial of JHL1101, a biosimilar to the Roche/Genentech rheumatoid arthritis treatment MabThera/Rituxan. JHL is a Taiwan-China biotech, formed by Genentech veterans, with a Wuhan, China manufacturing facility that is compliant with international regulations. Late in 2016, JHL struck a deal with Sanofi giving Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) rights to commercialize JHL1101 in China (though no trials have been announced). Sanofi paid $21 million upfront and invested $80 million in JHL stock for the rights in a deal valued at $257 million.
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