Fierce Pharma Asia—Junshi's mRNA JV; Novartis' China business; Roche's Ronapreve COVID nod in Japan

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Junshi Biosciences, Novartis, Roche and Hanmi Pharma made our news this week. (Google)

China's Junshi Biosciences has formed an mRNA-focused joint venture with delivery specialist Immorna. Novartis touts strong growth in China as the Swiss pharma looks to double sales in the country by 2025. Roche has snagged its first full approval for Regeneron-licensed COVID-19 cocktail Ronapreve in Japan. And more.

1. Junshi commits $31M to pact with mRNA delivery specialist

Amid an mRNA gold rush, China’s Junshi Biosciences is investing RMB 200 million ($31 million) into a joint venture with local mRNA delivery specialist Immorna. The new firm will develop drugs in various therapeutic areas for the global market based on mRNA and other platforms. Immorna has several nanoliposome particles (LNPs) and non-LNP delivery vehicles, Junshi noted.

2. Is Entresto maker Novartis scared of Jardiance's landmark heart failure win? Not really, exec says

Novartis is seeing fast growth for its business in China. Heart drug Entresto tripled sales in the country in the second quarter after “strategic account expansion,” making the country now the drug’s second-biggest market behind the U.S., Novartis’ pharma chief Marie-France Tschudin said during a conference call.

Overall, China pulled in $811 million in sales for the Swiss pharma in the quarter, up 18% at constant currencies. Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said the company intends to double its China business by 2025 versus 2020 and to rank among the top three multinational pharma players in the country.

3. Roche, Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody combo Ronapreve wins first full approval in Japan (release)

Japan has become the first country to grant a full approval for Roche’s Regeneron-partnered COVID-19 antibody therapy Ronapreve, a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Roche is responsible for the drug’s ex-U.S. market through a deal formed last August. It’s authorized for emergency use in several other territories including the U.S.

4. Hanmi, LegoChem to co-develop bispecific ADC cancer drugs (Korea Biomedical Review)

Hanmi Pharma has signed on fellow Korean biotech LegoChem Biosciences to co-develop bispecific antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) that will combine Hanmi’s Pentambody bispecific platform with the latter’s ADC linker-toxin platform. LegoChem has several ongoing collaborations around ADCs, including a multitarget deal signed with Takeda in 2019.