In China's booming biotech industry, we picked 10 leaders everyone should know about, because they'll likely compete on the global stage one day. China's RemeGen, which is developing in-demand antibody-drug conjugates, raised $515 million in a Hong Kong IPO, the largest biotech IPO so far this year. A Brazilian phase 3 trial of Sinovac's COVID vaccine candidate was temporarily stopped because of a death unrelated to the vaccine. And more.
China has witnessed a biotech boom over the past decade, and the first crop of companies just started to bear fruit as early movers have either entered the commercial stage or are coming close to their first new drug approvals. We picked 10 companies everyone interested in China’s biotech industry should know about. All but one of them have attracted Big Pharma companies buying into their R&D.
China’s RemeGen raised $515 million on the Hong Kong Exchange in one of the largest biotech IPOs. Interest in the company may largely be driven by its antibody-drug conjugate capabilities, a hot area that has attracted big licensing deals and acquisitions lately. RemeGen’s HER2-targeting ADC disitamab vedotin is near a China approval, and it just won an FDA breakthrough therapy designation as a second-line treatment for HER2-positive bladder cancer.
Earlier this week, Brazil temporarily halted a phase 3 trial of Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine hopeful Coronavac because of a volunteer’s death. Local officials have said the death—a suicide—was not related to the vaccine. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has in the past been critical of the vaccine because of its Chinese origin. The trial has since resumed.
Merck and Eisai said a combination of Keytruda and Lenvima beat Pfizer’s Sutent in a phase 3 trial of newly diagnosed renal cell carcinoma. The combo was better at shrinking tumors, staving off disease progression, and, most importantly, extending patients’ lives. The trial also tested a Lenvima-plus-Afinitor combo, which is already allowed in previously treated cases, in first-line patients. While the pairing topped Sutent in tumor response and slowing cancer progression, there’s no word on its survival benefits.
Pfizer has received requests from the foreign corruption units at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for documents related to the company’s activities in China. Many other pharma companies have settled investigations of their Chinese operations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including Pfizer itself eight years ago.
A low-cost, rapid nasal swab test for COVID, developed by researchers at Oxsed, a University of Oxford research center in Suzhou, China, has been put in place to screen passengers at major international airports in London and Hong Kong. The test was designed to deliver a result in 15 to 30 minutes for under $25. Oxsed was acquired last month by DNAFit Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Prenetics.