Fierce Pharma Asia—BeiGene touts Q1, PARP inhibitor nod; Astellas culls muscle disease pact

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BeiGene, Astellas and CANbridge made our news this week. (Google)

BeiGene's first-quarter sales jumped 104% year over year to $106 million as it started to benefit from demand surging on new national reimbursement coverage. The Chinese biotech also won a local go-ahead for a PARP inhibitor to challenge incumbents Lynparza and Zejula. Astellas walked away from a muscle disease pact with Cytokinetics after a midstage trial flop. And more.

1. BeiGene records sales growth as China’s NRDL demand kicks in for key meds (release)

BeiGene more than doubled product sales year over year to $106 million in the first quarter. The company’s PD-1 inhibitor tislelizumab, BTK inhibitor Brukinsa and Amgen-shared bone drug Xgeva enjoyed huge increases in patient demand following their inclusion on China’s National Reimbursement Drug List starting this March, which the company said more than offset the effect from price cuts. But the marketing suspension of a Bristol Myers Squibb chemo drug, Abraxane, remains a drag.

2. BeiGene targets AstraZeneca, GSK partner Zai Lab with China nod for PARP inhibitor (release)

Meanwhile, BeiGene won a conditional China nod for its PARP inhibitor pamiparib for BRCA-mutated recurrent ovarian cancer after at least two prior lines of chemotherapy. The quick go-ahead is based on tumor response data from a China-specific phase 2 trial. Among 82 patients with platinum-sensitive disease, pamiparib shrank tumors in 68.3% of patients. Of the 19 patients with platinum-resistant tumors, 31.6% registered a response. AstraZeneca and Merck already sell their rival Lynparza in China, and Zai Lab is marketing GlaxoSmithKline’s Zejula in the country.

3. Astellas quietly cuts Cytokinetics R&D pact as $450M-plus in biobucks goes up in smoke

Astellas decided to nix a licensing deal with Cytokinetics around the California biotech’s skeletal sarcomere activators. The move came two years after Cytokinetics’ reldesemtiv missed the primary endpoint in a phase 2 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis trial. Astellas originally extended the deal, but now it's bailing out—and vaporizing a potential $250 million in milestone payments.

4. Mundipharma puts China business on the block, eyeing $1B deal (Reuters)

Mundipharma launched a sale of its China business, which could be worth $1 billion, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Last year, the company reportedly tapped Deutsche Bank to help sell the entire company, but Reuters' sources said it decided to focus on China instead. A 2019 Associated Press story alleged that the company, owned by the Sackler family, was promoting OxyContin in China with the same problematic marketing tactics Purdue Pharma had adopted in the U.S.

5. CANbridge buys liver-targeted gene therapies from LogicBio

Chinese company CANbridge Pharmaceuticals licensed gene therapies based on LogicBio Therapeutics’ liver-targeting adeno-associated virus sL65 delivery platform. It paid $10 million upfront for exclusive global rights to Fabry and Pompe disease candidates, and it has the option to license two other therapies and gain Greater China rights to LogicBio’s lead candidate LB-001.

6. Kyowa Kirin brings on new U.S. R&D execs to advance 3 clinical candidates (release)

Kyowa Kirin’s North American branch named two top R&D execs to advance its pipeline. Ernesto Aycardi, M.D., jumped from Xenon Pharmaceuticals to be the firm’s chief development officer. Eslie Dennis, M.D., most recently head of global medical affairs for Roche Tissue Diagnostics, joined as chief medical officer. The company is focused on Parkinson’s candidate KW-6356, an anti-OX40 drug dubbed KHK4083 for autoimmune disease, and MEI Pharma-partnered PI3Kδ inhibitor zandelisib.