FiercePharmaAsia—GSK scandal sequel, AstraZeneca China alliances, Samsung BioLogics sales jump

GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and Samsung BioLogics made our news this week. (Google Maps)

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about the U.K. government's request for information on third-party advisers involved in GlaxoSmithKline's China bribery scandal, several Anglo-Sino biopharma deals signed during U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's state visit to China, Samsung BioLogics' 2017 sales growth, and more.

1. GlaxoSmithKline notifies SEC, DOJ of new questions in China bribery probe

About five years have passed since the China bribery scandal emerged, and it is still haunting GlaxoSmithKline today. The drugmaker revealed that the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office is asking for information on “third-party advisers engaged by the company.” One known adviser was a husband-and-wife private detective team, who ended up in prison in China.

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2. AstraZeneca allies with Alibaba and Tencent as its China sales soar

As CEO Pascal Soriot accompanied U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on her visit to China, AstraZeneca inked two deals focused on smart health services with Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent. It also came as the company reported 30% drug sales growth in the fourth quarter in China, or 15% for all of 2017.

3. Samsung BioLogics reports $420M in sales for 2017, helped by production boosts from new plants

Samsung BioLogics’ 2017 sales jumped 56% to reach $420 million. The company embarked on an expansion project years ago, aiming to become the world’s largest biologics contract manufacturer. The sales growth was the result of improvement with two plants. A third $740 million plant opened last November and will be reflected in 2018 financials.

4. With private equity bidders lined up, Sanofi's EU generics could go for up to $2.4B: Reuters

Brazil’s EMS and India’s Torrent Pharma, along with several private equity funds, are reportedly the remaining two contenders vying for Sanofi’s European generics business. The competition could push the final price of the unit to $2.4 billion, a source told Reuters.

5. Chinese upstart DL Medicine forges alliance with Pfizer

Chinese startup NetVation DL Medicine has nabbed a two-year alliance and an equity investment from Pfizer. The company was built by China’s DNA-encoded drug discovery firm HitGen and Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Anlong venture fund. The collaboration reflects Pfizer’s ongoing interest in the fast-emerging R&D scene in China.

6. Sanofi refuses to refund Philippines for used Dengvaxia, saying to do so would imply the shot is ineffective

Preliminary report outlines 'causal association' between Sanofi's Dengvaxia and 3 deaths

Sanofi Pasteur has turned down the Philippine government’s request to refund over $30 million for used Dengvaxia. The decision followed closely after an expert panel couldn’t make a direct connection between the vaccine and postvaccination deaths, though a “causal association” was observed in three cases.

7. Tencent, Medopad ally to create AI-fueled medical chatbots

London-based Medopad has teamed up with Tencent to develop artificial intelligence-enabled clinical decision support software and medical chatbots. The partnership gives Medopad access to the nearly 1 billion users of Tencent’s WeChat messaging service. China’s NWS Holdings played a big role in the first close of $28 million in Medopad’s planned $120 million financing round.

8. Chinese funds plow cash into British VC shops

In another two deals signed during U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s state visit to China, British venture capital firms Eight Great Technologies Fund, which invests in regenerative medicine and synthetic biology, and Future Planet Capital, which lists health as one of five areas in which it invests, teamed with Chinese investors to create two funds worth $775 million and $470 million, respectively.

9. Takeda teams with Cedars Sinai on tech tool to personalize IBD treatment choices

Takeda sponsored Cedars-Sinai's development of an online tool that uses a marketing technique to create personalized profiles of inflammatory bowel disease patients. The app IBD&me guides patients through a series of questions to figure out the attributes of biologic drugs they would or wouldn’t prefer.