Deals and Financings
Sanpower Group, a China conglomerate, paid $820 million to acquire Dendreon, which makes Provenge, the world's first immunotherapy, from Valeant Pharma (NYSE/TSX: VRX) (see story). Approved as a treatment for prostate cancer in 2010, Dendreon never lived up to expectations because it combined high cost, limited insurance approvals and mediocre improvement over competitors. Its annual revenues are around $320 million. Based in Nanjing, Sanpower is involved in several industries, including healthcare delivery, though it hasn't previously produced pharmaceuticals. According to Sanpower, it has controlling interests in over 100 companies.
Concord Medical Services (NYSE: CCM), a Beijing company that operates a large China network of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging centers, formed a $150 million healthcare investment fund with Zhongrong International Trust (see story). Concord already runs 123 centers in hospitals across China; it says the capital will extend its reach and solidify its position in the sector. Concord has shown interest in owning hospitals over the last few years, which may also be a goal for the fund. The funds were evidently provided by Zhongrong; Concord has a market cap of just $200 million.
Shanghai Fosun Pharma (SHA:600196; HK:02196) formed a JV with Santa Monica's Kite Pharma (NSDQ: KITE) to develop Kite's CAR-T immuno-oncology drug in China (see story). Axicabtagene ciloleucel (KTE-C19), has completed clinical development in the US and Europe to treat B-cell lymphomas. Fosun will pay $40 million to Kite upfront and as much as $35 million in milestones. It will also provide $20 million for China development costs. The JV will also have an option for additional Kite products, including two T cell receptor candidates.
Beijing's Cui Yutao Health Management Center raised $20 million in a C round to improve its pediatric care mobile app, Yuxueyuan, and increase its network of pediatric clinics (see story). At the moment, Cui Yutao seems to operate a single clinic in Beijing. Dr. Cui is a well-known author in China of books that advise mothers on infant/pediatric care. GGV led the C round, joined by existing investors HighLight Capital, a healthcare investor, and Wu Capital, the investment vehicle for China's Wu family.
Sequoia Capital China made a strategic investment in Hong Kong Asia Medical Center, an operator of Chinese hospitals that emphasize cardiology care (see story). Although the size of the investment was not disclosed, it was described as being in the hundreds of millions RMB (each 100RMB equals $14.5 million). Altogether HKAMC has 3,000 beds with a flagship hospital in Hong Kong, plus cardiology hospitals in Wuhan, Xinjiang province and other cities. HKAMC plans to expand its hospitals in China and overseas, while its also improves its existing facilities.
AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a startup called Genomics Medicine Ireland, and WuXi NextCODE have formed a 15-year genomic alliance that proposes to sequence 45,000 Irish genomes (see story). AbbVie will use the data to identify novel targets along with companion diagnostics to discover improved treatments for a number of diseases. The focus will be on oncology, neuroscience and immunology, all areas of interest for AbbVie. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Beijing's Bioyong Technology will collaborate with Biodesix of Boulder, Colorado to bring Biodesix's VeriStrat® proteomic IVD to China (see story). Using a blood sample, the VeriStrat test provides a prognosis for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, predicting the aggressiveness of the disease based on the host's response to the tumor. Biodesix will receive about $38 million over the course of the collaboration. The two companies may also develop additional oncology tests and expand the use of VeriStrat into other Asia-Pacific countries.
Trials and Approvals
Suzhou Alphamab reported that its anti-PD-L1 antibody, KN035, was approved by the CFDA to begin clinical trials (see story). Alphamab believes the candidate will be more effective and cause fewer side effects than the competition. Early in 2017, Alphamab formed a global partnership with 3DMed, a Shanghai precision drug company, to develop KN035 further. The FDA has also approved US clinical trials of the candidate.
Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med) (NSDQ/AIM: HCM) has begun treating cancer patients in a China Phase I trial of HMPL-523, a novel spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) inhibitor (see story). The patients have hematological malignancies, including lymphoma and leukemia. In November of last year, Chi-Med reported that an Australian trial of HMPL-523 for arthritis showed a dose-dependent suppression of B-cell activation, with lower rates of diarrhea and hypertension than first-generation Syk inhibitors.
Merck KGaA (Xetra: MRK) will offer an expanded set of biologic CRO/CMO services in Shanghai and Boston, following the successful lead of a similar expansion in France (see story). Each of the two new centers will offer a full range of process development capabilities and services, including cell line development services, both upstream and downstream process development, and non-GMP clinical production. The company will install 2000L single-use bioreactors in each center.
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