FiercePharmaAsia—Daiichi's win-lose week; Astra's China business; Novavax-Fujifilm COVID-19 vax deal

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Daiichi Sankyo, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Fujifilm made our news this week. (Google)

AstraZeneca signed a second antibody-drug conjugate pact with Daiichi Sankyo, betting $1 billion upfront on an anti-TROP candidate. But the Japanese pharma lost a pediatric pentavalent vaccine partnership with Sanofi. AstraZeneca's China growth slowed to 11% in the second quarter amid a huge Pulmicort decline due to COVID-19. Novavax tapped Fujifilm to help provide clinical supply of its U.S. government-funded coronavirus vaccine candidate. And more.

1. AstraZeneca bets $1B on Daiichi rival to Immunomedics' Trodelvy

AstraZeneca’s seeing good results from its Daiichi Sankyo-licensed HER2 antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) Enhertu, so the British pharma’s come back for more. AZ will pay Daiichi $1 billion upfront and up to $4 billion in sales-related milestones for ex-Japan rights to DS-1062, a TROP2-directed ADC and potential rival to Immunomedics’ Trodelvy.

2. Sanofi pulls out of late-phase Daiichi vaccine collaboration

It was not all good news for Daiichi this week, though. Sanofi abandoned a pediatric pentavalent vaccine collaboration with the Japanese pharma after years of waiting on phase 3 data. Japan has been slow in adopting a shot that prevents pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Hib, opting instead for tetravalent and single-antigen shots given at the same time.

3. Tagrisso, other cancer drugs hand AstraZeneca one of pharma's rare pandemic sales gains

AstraZeneca's second-quarter sales increased 9% at constant currencies. But one product in China was a drag. Sales of aging corticosteroid Pulmicort plummeted by 70% year over year to merely $97 million in Q2, due to significantly reduced patient visits to nebulizer centers in China during COVID-19. The geopolitical tension between U.S. and China—AZ’s top two markets—also cloud the company’s future there.

4. Novavax, Fujifilm lock up supply for late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies will produce clinical supply for a phase 3 trial of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate expected to begin in the fall. The pact will be funded by a $1.6 billion grant Novavax just secured from the U.S. vaccine-acceleration project Operation Warp Speed. The news also comes as Fujifilm’s photography archrival Kodak pivots to drug manufacturing with a $765 million loan from the U.S. government to scale production of active pharmaceutical ingredients for generic medicines.

5. Teva, Takeda offload generics, manufacturing plant to Nichi-Iko in Japanese venture reshuffle

Teva and Takeda are cutting back operations at their Japanese joint venture. The business will offload most of its generics portfolio and a manufacturing site to Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical. It wasn’t clear how many drugs would be sold off, but the partners will retain around 20 small-molecule generics and some pipeline assets as the two refocus on specialty drugs and targeted generics.

6. J&J Vision debuts new try-it augmented reality tech application for Acuvue lenses in China

Johnson & Johnson Vision debuted an app in China that, through beauty tech firm Perfect Corp’s AR technology, allows users to see how they would look wearing Acuvue’s Define brand contact lens. The platform, launched during the “6.18” midyear shopping festival in China, achieved an almost 30% consumer purchase conversion rate.

7. China adds Astra’s Brilinta, Pfizer-BMS’ Eliquis and more to new round of bulk purchase (Reuters)

China has kicked off its third round of a bulk procurement program focused on generic drugs. The new list up for bidding includes AstraZeneca’s heart med Brilinta, and Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb’s megablockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, among others. Drugmakers on average took 53% off their original prices in the previous round of bidding.