FiercePharmaAsia—Sanofi's Japan cuts; Big Pharma CEOs' Chinese names; Astellas' ESMO win

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Sanofi, Big Pharma CEOs, Astellas, Eisai, Chi-Med and more made our news this week. (Google)

After job cuts in Europe and the U.S., Sanofi is slimming down in Japan. Most CEOs of Big Pharma companies have got themselves Chinese names, showing in one way how much they care about the world's second-largest drug market. At this year's European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) annual meeting, Astellas and Seattle Genetics posted positive results for their antibody-drug conjugate, Merck and Eisai detailed a Keytruda-Lenvima combo win and Chi-Med touted surufatinib's neuroendocrine tumor data. And more.

1. Still seeking cost cuts, Sanofi plans to slim down in Japan through voluntary retirements

Sanofi is cutting jobs in Japan through voluntary early retirements. Jobs in sales, regulatory affairs, operations, IT and human resources are on the block, Reuters reported. The cuts come after Sanofi in June chopped 466 jobs in its R&D organization in France and Germany as part of a pivot away from cardiovascular diseases and let go of an undisclosed number of U.S. sales staffers in April.

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2. Big Pharma CEOs' Chinese names: Here's how they look and what they mean

Presenting a friendly face to the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market, many CEOs of Big Pharma companies have adopted Chinese names. Many themes appear within them, including personal virtue, wisdom or knowledge. We show you how the names look in Chinese characters, how they are pronounced and what they mean.

3. ESMO: Astellas, Seattle Genetics' Keytruda combo shrinks 71% of bladder cancers

Astellas and Seattle Genetics’ antibody-drug conjugate, enfortumab vedotin, along with Merck’s Keytruda, shrank 71% of tumors and wiped out 13% of them in newly diagnosed patients with advanced urothelial cancer who were not eligible for chemo, phase 1 data presented at ESMO showed. Overall, the combo posted a disease control rate of 93%.

4. ESMO: Merck, Eisai detail Keytruda-Lenvima combo results after triple endometrial cancer OK

Also at ESMO, Eisai and partner Merck provided a detailed look at the Keytruda-Lenvima combo data in certain previously treated endometrial cancer patients. In a phase 2, the pairing showed it could trigger a response in 38.9% of patients who aren’t candidates for surgery or radiation. The patients continued to benefit for a median 21.2 months.

5. ESMO: Eyeing Novartis and Pfizer, Chi-Med touts neuroendocrine cancer win

Chi-Med’s surufatinib stalled cancer progression by a median 9.2 months among Chinese patients whose neuroendocrine tumors originated outside of the pancreas versus 3.8 months observed with placebo in a phase 3 study, investigators reported at ESMO. Pfizer’s Sutent and Novartis’ Afinitor and Lutathera are all approved to treat certain neuroendocrine tumors, but no one drug can cover all types.

6. Eisai and Nichi-Iko eye China's generics market in new pact (release)

Eisai and Nichi-Iko have inked a deal to bring the latter’s generics drugs—which are approved in Japan—into China. Nichi-Iko will be responsible for getting approvals, and Eisai will take care of sales. The two plan to select the first two products in this fiscal year and launch one to two drugs every year starting in full-year 2024. The deal follows several China generics collaborations between Indian and Chinese drugmakers.

7. Mom approved: J&J, Takeda and more lead Working Mother's best places to work list for 2019

Takeda and Astellas joined Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie on the Working Mother “100 Best Companies” annual list. Takeda offers mothers remote work and job-sharing options, and Astellas offers a suit of benefits for all family members including backup child care and support for special-needs children.

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