BioNTech is expanding in Asia with a planned regional headquarters and mRNA manufacturing facility in Singapore, plus a joint venture with Fosun Pharma focused on its COVID-19 vaccine in China. Takeda believes revenues from its remaining portfolio can help it pay down debt and grow into the future. Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca's anti-TROP2 antibody-drug conjugate reported early tumor shrinkage data. And more.
With cash flow from selling its COVID-19 vaccine, BioNTech aims to become a “global immunotherapy powerhouse.” After setting up new operations in Europe and the U.S., the mRNA specialist is targeting Asia. It will set up a Southeast Asia regional headquarters in Singapore, accompanied by an mRNA manufacturing facility that could eventually boast an estimated annual capacity of several hundred million doses of mRNA shots.
Meanwhile, BioNTech is further fleshing out its ongoing collaboration with Fosun Pharma around its COVID-19 vaccine in China. The two firms are setting up a 50-50 join venture to make and sell BNT162b2, or Comirnaty, in China, with capacity to manufacture up to 1 billion doses a year. The 15-year agreement could expand beyond the coronavirus vaccine to other mRNA programs.
Takeda is getting closer to its debt-lowering goal after selling up to $12.9 billion worth of non-core assets outside its five focus areas, exceeding the original $10 billion divestiture target. It also met its $2.3 billion cost-cutting goal from the Shire merger ahead of schedule. CEO Christophe Weber said the company can further deleverage by tapping revenue growth from its remaining business.
Datopotamab deruxtecan, the second antibody-drug conjugate in Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca’s collaboration, has shown early promise. Data from a phase 1 trial showed the anti-TROP2 drug triggered a response in 43% of 21 evaluable patients with previously treated triple-negative breast cancer. AZ paid $1 billion upfront and committed $5 billion in milestones for the drug.
Following similar moves by Gilead Sciences and Merck & Co., Eli Lilly has signed on Indian partners to help make its arthritis drug Olumiant for COVID-19. Local generics maker Cipla, Lupin and Sun Pharma are now able to manufacture and sell the med in India, which has faced a shortage of COVID treatments during a recent virus surge. Olumiant is allowed to be used alongside Gilead’s remdesivir for serious hospitalized patients requiring oxygen support.
China’s LianBio has hired Eli Lilly exec Yizhe Wang, Ph.D., as its new CEO. Wang led global brand development at Lilly’s oncology unit and in 2020 took on the additional role of the global platform lead for Lilly's anti-COVID therapy. LianBio emerged from stealth last August with a business model of in-licensing drugs for the Chinese market. It has programs from MyoKardia—now part of Bristol Myers Squibb—BridgeBio, Pfizer and others.