FiercePharmaAsia—HKEX reality check; Zai Lab’s eczema flop; WuXi AppTec’s co-CEO

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The Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Ascletis, Zai Lab, WuXi AppTec and Illumina made our news this week. (Google)

The sharp drop of Ascletis' stock price could mean lower IPO pricing in Hong Kong for prerevenue biotechs. Zai Lab stops development of a former GlaxoSmithKline atopic dermatitis drug after a phase 2 flop. WuXi AppTec names CFO its co-CEO. China is reportedly withholding H7N9 strain samples from U.S. researchers as tensions build up between the two countries. And more.

1. Reality check for Hong Kong biotech IPOs as Ascletis slips

Many Asia-focused biotech companies were excited when the Hong Kong Stock Exchange started allowing listing of prerevenue biotechs. But the 44% price drop of Ascletis Pharma—the first to list there under the new rules—in just a month may serve as a wake-up call for them. Investors and bankers are now speaking of bubbles bursting and said to expect lower valuations for future IPOs in Hong Kong.

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2. Zai Lab cans ex-GlaxoSmithKline eczema drug after phase 2 flop

Zai Lab has stopped development of ZL-3101, an atopic dermatitis treatment it licensed from GlaxoSmithKline in 2016. A formulation of extracts from two Chinese herbs, the drug failed to beat placebo in a phase 2a trial in 295 Chinese patients.

3. WuXi AppTec names Hu as co-chief executive; search on for new CFO

WuXi AppTec promoted CFO Edward Hu to serve as co-CEO beside Ge Li. He joined the company in 2007 and had previously served as COO. The company is now searching for a new CFO.

4. China has withheld samples of deadly avian influenza strain from U.S. researchers: NYT

More than a year after a serious H7N9 avian influenza outbreak erupted in China, the country still hasn’t sent samples of the viral strain to U.S. researchers to help develop vaccines and drugs, despite previous commitment to do so “in a timely manner,” The New York Times reported. Experts now worry there could be further delay due to the recent trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

5. Illumina receives 1st approval in China for its MiSeqDx sequencing system

Illumina got its first official Chinese clearance. Previously, it marketed in China through partnerships with local companies for the development of genetic tests. The company can now directly sell its benchtop MiSeqDx sequencing device in the country. For the first half of this year, Illumina reported $185 million in revenue from China, up from $134 million the same period last year.

6. Chinese biotech Harbour lands $85M to run cancer trials

Hard on the heels of a PD-L1 deal with Kelun Biotech, China’s Harbour BioMed has raised $85 million in a series B. The money will support clinical development of the checkpoint inhibitor and a HER2-CD3 bispecific antibody, whose Chinese rights it licensed from Glenmark.

7. Indian government committee calls for Johnson & Johnson to pay patients for recalled hip implants

Johnson & Johnson recalled 93,000 metal hip implants worldwide in 2010 after data showed a high early failure rate. Now India’s drug regulator is asking it to compensate Indian patients who had undergone revision surgeries or suffered adverse reactions at a base payment of at least $28,300 per person.

8. China Biologic rejects former CEO's $3.9B buyout offer, opts for new share issuance

China Biologic Products’ board has rejected a $3.9 billion take-private offer from a buyer group led by its former CEO. Instead, the Nasdaq-listed plasma product specialist is offering several existing investors additional shares to raise $590 million for expansion and acquisitions.

9. Merck KGaA, GlucoMe to pilot remote, digital diabetes care in Vietnam

Merck KGaA has tapped digital diabetes platform provider GlucoMe for a pilot program in Vietnam. GlucoMe’s digital solution will be installed at hospitals, allowing patients to use wireless blood glucose devices to measure blood sugar levels at home, while being more closely monitored by staff.