FiercePharmaAsia—GSK’s neurology R&D hub, Pfizer-Astellas’ aborted Xtandi mission, Daiichi Sankyo’s Benicar settlement

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GlaxoSmithKline has decided to shutter its global neuroscience R&D center in Shanghai amid a major overhaul.

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about GlaxoSmithKline's plan to close its global neuroscience R&D center in Shanghai, Pfizer and Astellas' decision to discontinue studies investigating Xtandi as a breast cancer treatment, Daiichi Sankyo's $300 million offer to settle about 2,300 lawsuits around Benicar and other related blood pressure meds, and more.

1. GSK to shutter central neuroscience R&D hub in China

Established in 2007, GSK’s Shanghai R&D hub has been leading the company’s research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, a field that is seeing almost no success these days across the industry. Now, amid a major therapeutic area refocus championed by the new CEO Emma Walmsley, the British pharma giant is looking to close this neuroscience R&D center.

2. Pfizer and Astellas abandon efforts to expand Xtandi into breast cancer

Xtandi, the blockbuster cancer medication that Pfizer picked up in its $14 billion Medivation buyout and shared with Astellas, was hit by a setback. The pair has decided to discontinue exploring its usage against breast cancer, citing “competitive landscape change, need for further diagnostic development and new phase 2 data.” The drug is approved for treating prostate cancer, and Astellas is also testing it for liver cancer.

3. Fiscally challenged Daiichi Sankyo offers $300 million to settle 2,300 Benicar lawsuits

Daiichi Sankyo has agreed to pay $300 million to settle nearly 2,300 lawsuits around side effects of blood pressure medication Benicar and other related drugs. The drug’s $2.6 billion sales accounted for about a quarter of the drugmaker’s revenues last year. Even though the costs of the lawsuits will be covered by insurers, the company’s finance was affected as Benicar had lost its patent exclusivity.

4. Baxter to expand 3 plants it picked up in Claris Injectables buyout

Baxter has completed its $625 million acquisition of Indian company Claris Injectables, and is now planning to expand capacity and add new capabilities at the three manufacturing facilities it got. Claris makes anesthesia and analgesics, renal, anti-infectives and other products. The deal is expected to add 50 products to Baxter’s portfolio in 2017 and 20 more in the following two years combined.

5. WuXi's STA merges in drug development services

WuXi AppTec is merging its pharmaceutical development services division into its STA Pharmaceutical subsidiary, which is focused on small-molecule drug manufacturing. The Pharmaceutical Development Services unit offerings include preformulation development, formulation development and manufacturing of clinical trial material. After the merger, STA will be able to develop and produce drugs from start to finish. 

6. Agilis forms joint venture to advance gene therapy vectors

Agilis Biotherapeutics has formed a joint venture with Japan’s Gene Therapy Research Institution. The alliance gives Agilis a base in Japan and a partnership with a fellow CNS specialist to support its development of adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and gene therapies. The Japanese company is working on AAV-based gene therapies against neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

7. Dr. Reddy's plant remediation efforts still months away from completion

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories’ CEO GV Prasad acknowledged that the company is still months away from meeting FDA expectations of its manufacturing. Although the company reported a 2.4% increase for revenues in the past quarter, its bottom line plummeted 53% to about $9.2 million, a loss the company attributed to remediation costs and generic drug competition the U.S.