Fierce Pharma Asia—AstraZeneca China's fraud investigation; Women promoted at Takeda; Samsung buy of Biogen's stake in biosimilar JV

An insurance fraud scheme involving employees at AstraZeneca China was revealed this week. Takeda has promoted several women to key positions, the company reported during its quarterly earnings summary. Samsung has bought out Biogen’s stake in its biosimilar-focused Samsung Bioepis joint venture for $2.3 billion. And more.

1. AstraZeneca reveals insurance fraud probe in China as officials say they’ve made criminal arrests

AstraZeneca is under investigation in China over alleged insurance fraud. The company said it launched an internal investigation last August when it discovered a “small number of employees in Shenzhen had tampered” with patient test reports. Now, China’s National Healthcare Security Administration is investigating, and arrests have been made. AZ said it took “serious action” against the employees and reported the infractions to local medical insurance authorities.

2. Takeda’s Sequeira to head up newly created global portfolio division, Kim to lead U.S. unit

During its quarterly earnings report, Takeda revealed four new executive appointments designed to give women a greater voice in the company. Ramona Sequeira was promoted to head up the company’s newly created Global Portfolio Division. She previously led Takeda’s U.S. efforts. Also promoted were Julie Kim, who is the new leader of U.S. business after guiding Takeda’s plasma-derived therapies; Gabriele Ricci, who becomes the chief data and technology officer; and Giles Platford, who assumes Kim’s former role in charge of plasma therapies.

3. Samsung buys Biogen out of biosimilar unit for $2.3B—not the whole Aduhelm headache

Samsung Biologics, the CDMO arm of Samsung, will acquire Biogen’s stake in its biosimilar-focused Samsung Bioepis joint venture for $2.3 billion. The move does little to change how Biogen operates. Its commercialization agreements covering four approved biosimilar products remain intact. As Biogen launches troubled Alzheimer’s treatment Aduhelm, its stock price is under pressure, making the company vulnerable to a takeover.

4. Takeda shunts jewel of Shire takeover to new spinoff Oak Hill

Takeda is at it again, fueling another rare-disease-focused startup: Oak Hill Bio of Cambridge, Massachusetts. A few months after spinning off HilleVax, the Japanese drugmaker established Oak Hill with a pair of assets that had stalled in phase 2. One is OHB-607, a drug it acquired in its takeover of Shire in 2019 and reworked to prevent premature birth. Victoria Niklas, M.D., Takeda’s program leader for the drug, transfers to Oak Hill as its chief medical officer.

5. Relieving depression with LSD-like drugs without causing hallucinations

Scientists in China have designed LSD analogs that may allow the drug to be used as a therapeutic to ease depression. In testing with mice, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and ShanghaiTech University were able to separate the pathways by which the drugs deliver the antidepressive and hallucinogenic effects.

6. Aurobindo subsidiary recalls one lot of injectable antibiotic after complaint of hair in a vial

AuroMedics, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Aurobindo, issued a voluntary recall of one lot of antibiotic polymyxin B after a hair was found in a vial. The lot was distributed throughout the U.S. The recall comes a few days after Aurobindo was hit with an FDA warning letter for failing to adequately investigate batch failures of pharmaceutical ingredients at its facility in Hyderabad, India.