FiercePharmaAsia—Gilead’s clinical VP; Aurobindo buys Spectrum assets; Aslan’s lead drug

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Gilead, Terns, Spectrum, Aurobindo and Aslan made our news this week. (Google)

Gilead Sciences' VP of clinical research jumped ship to the NASH-focused, Chinese-U.S. startup Terns Pharmaceuticals. Rare disease and oncology specialist Spectrum Pharmaceuticals sold all its marketed drugs to India's Aurobindo to "laser-focus" on innovative cancer therapies. Aslan Pharmaceuticals' lead candidate varlitinib provided no additional tumor-shrinking benefit when added to standard chemotherapy in gastric cancer. And more.

1. Gilead’s clinical research VP moves to U.S.-China NASH startup Terns Pharma

Gilead's vice president of clinical research, Erin Quirk, M.D., has joined several former Gilead executives at NASH-focused Terns Pharmaceuticals as its new chief medical officer. She’ll help the Chinese-U.S. startup advance its portfolio through the clinic, said Terns co-founder and CEO, Weidong Zhong, who was once senior director of biology at Gilead.

2. Spectrum empties marketed portfolio worth $300M to deal-hungry Aurobindo

Spectrum is selling its entire portfolio of seven marketed products to Acrotech Biopharma, a wholly owned subsidiary of India’s Aurobindo, for $160 million up front and up to $140 million in milestones. Spectrum will transfer about 40% of its workforce to Acrotech but will still keep “a core group of commercial talent” for the potential launch of two late-stage drugs, Rolontis and poziotinib.

3. Aslan fails to roar as lead drug flunks phase 2 trial

Aslan Pharmaceuticals’ lead drug varlitinib failed a key phase 2 gastric cancer trial, just a few months after the Singapore biotech made its Nasdaq debut. The company also reported a response rate of 60% in a phase 1b/2 that tests valitinib plus gem/cis in first-line biliary tract cancer, and it’s due to report pivotal data in the second-line setting in the second half of this year.

4. 145 babies given expired polio vaccines in Chinese city—and there could be more

China has been hit by yet another vaccine scandal. As of January 9, 145 children were confirmed to have received expired oral polio vaccine from a health center in eastern China. Some parents claim their vaccination records suggest similar breaches encompassing a wide range of vaccines, and the local government has vowed to get to the bottom of the matter.

5. Pfizer partners with Medochemie to make drugs in Vietnam

Pfizer struck a deal with Medochemie, a Cyprus-based drugmaker with three manufacturing sites in Vietnam. The U.S. pharma will transfer technology that will permit Medochemie to manufacture 11 of Pfizer’s products, including four sterile injectables and seven tablets.

6. Workers Pfizer will whack at Hospira plants in India to get ‘attractive’ severance

Pfizer is offering an “attractive financial scheme that is significantly higher than the legal requirements” to some 1,700 employees expected to be laid off amid Pfizer’s decision to close two of its legacy Hospira plants in India. Pfizer is offering 75 days of wages for every year of service, according to a severance package cited by Business Standard.