Pfizer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca again touted their fast growth in China in their third-quarter earnings. Genentech seeks damages and an injunction in a suit against former employees and Taiwanese biosim firm JHL, which allegedly stole key trade secrets. Janssen buys South Korean firm Yuhan's third-generation EGFR TKI. And more. — Angus Liu
Pfizer saw sales jump 24% in China in the first nine months, said CEO-to-be Albert Bourla. The country is driving growth of some legacy brands such as Lipitor, so Pfizer plans to relocate some leadership of its newly formed Established Medicines business to China “where most of the growth is coming.” It’s also moving into smaller cities, which could give Pfizer “a good hedge against any pricing pressures,” said CEO Ian Read.
For Sanofi, “China remained a particular highlight, with strong growth in both pharmaceuticals and vaccines,” said CEO Olivier Brandicourt. As Sanofi’s second-largest individual market, China contributed sales growth of 17.7% in Q3 to reach €644 million. Amid a restructuring, Sanofi is creating a new China & Emerging Markets organization that highlights the importance of China.
Benefiting from a recent regulatory upgrade, AstraZeneca is seeing growth in China from its legacy brands and new medicines as well. In Q3, the country offered AstraZeneca 32% growth to $954 million. EGFR-mutated lung cancer blockbuster Tagrisso was recently added to China’s National Reimbursement Drug List, and Lynparza became the first PARP inhibitor to land there.
After federal prosecutors indicted former Genentech employees for stealing trade secrets and handing them to Taiwanese biosimilar firm JHL, Genentech has brought its own suit. The Roche biotech seeks damages and an injunction blocking the launches of any biosims involved. The suit alleges the ex-staffers stole “analytical methods, formulation know-how, quality acceptance criteria, and manufacturing protocols.”
South Korean pharma Yuhan has licensed its lung cancer drug lazertinib to Janssen Biotech for $50 million up front and another $1.2 billion in milestones. The third-generation EGFR-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor has generated positive data in a phase 1/2 NSCLC trial but is still far behind AstraZeneca’s fast-growing Tagrisso.
After establishing itself in the U.S. and Europe, Hikma Pharmaceuticals is moving into Asia, starting with a deal to buy Medlac Pharma, a Vietnam-Italy joint venture injectables manufacturing company. The deal includes an injectables facility in Hanoi and adjacent vacant land, as well as Medlac’s products and employees.