“We are always looking for opportunities in China but there are a couple now that we are really going to push to close in on potential deals,” Peter Lebowitz, head of J&J’s (JNJ) global oncology division told the paper.
“Before 2015, in the early days,” Chinese biotech firms were focused on formulating “slightly better versions of existing” medications, Lebowitz said, adding: “Now though, in China there is true innovation.”
While J&J (JNJ) declined to name the two potential targets, the talks follow the company’s 2017 partnership with Legend Biotech (NASDAQ:LEGN), a subsidiary of the Chinese healthcare company Genscript Biotech (OTCPK:GNNSF). J&J (JNJ) and Legend (LEGN) recently won the U.S. regulatory approval for CAR-T therapy Carvykti for multiple myeloma.
“We are proud to be the trailblazer to bring some breakthrough science discovery in China and develop that in the US,” the chief executive of Legend (LEGN), Ying Huang said. He noted that rising biotech investments in China are creating scientific discoveries and opportunities for expansion in the U.S., the world’s largest pharmaceutical market.
However, last month, Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and its Chinese partner, Innovent Biologics (IVBKSF) failed to win the backing of an expert panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cancer drug Tyvyt (sintilimab) due to lack of data diversity in a pivotal trial conducted only in China.