Fosun Pharma picks up GSK plant in China along with rights to make Epivir generic

China flag against blue sky
China Fosun Pharma will plant its flag at a GlaxoSmithKline plant in east China it's buying for about $36 million. (Pixabay)

Even as GlaxoSmithKline has opened its most advanced manufacturing site in Asia, it is selling an older plant in China to Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical. 

Fosun Pharma announced that it has a deal with GSK to buy its Suzhou pharmaceutical factory in east China near Shanghai for ¥250 million ($36 million), reports. Fosun, among China’s largest drugmakers, said the plant produced revenue of  ¥656.1 million ($94.4 million) last year. 

RELATED: Glaxo's ViiV touts more 2-drug HIV success with monthly injectable win 

The Chinese drugmaker also is getting the rights to produce GSK’s older chronic hepatitis B and HIV drug lamivudine. 

RELATED: GSK opens $95M continuous production operation in Singapore

In an emailed statement confirming the sale, GSK said it expects to complete the deal by November of this year. It said the sale, which includes the Heptodin brand in China, follows a decision made in 2017 to divest the site by the end of 2020.  

Heptodin, or lamivudine, is the active ingredient in GSK’s HIV and hepatitis drug Epivir, which GSK now uses in its combo HIV meds. But with the opening of GSK’s new continuous manufacturing facilities at its site in Singapore, it now has the ability to make APIs like lamivudine faster and more inexpensively. 

The U.K. drugmaker Monday announced the opening of a $95 million continuous manufacturing complex in Singapore. One part of the operation will make APIs for HIV drugs such as dolutegravir, a combo of Tivicay (dolutegravir, DTG) and Epivir (lamivudine, 3TC). 

The manufacturing method puts ingredients through a series of heaters, spinners, extractors and other equipment to achieve an enzymatic result instead of using batches and chemical reactions. The plants are smaller, faster and cheaper, use far less energy and produce far less waste.  . 

GSK said the first new drug to be manufactured using the enzymatic process will be daprodustat, a new oral treatment for anemia associated with chronic kidney disease. It also is using continuous processing in a part of a pilot plant that makes APIs for clinical trials.