After the July Fourth holiday, we've got two weeks of biopharma movement from Asia to catch up on. South Korea's Hanmi Pharmaceutical is looking at a loss of up to $810 million in milestones after Johnson & Johnson ditched its obesity collaboration. Meanwhile, fellow Korean drugmaker Yuhan has teamed up with Boehringer Ingelheim on a nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) deal that could be worth $870 million. Following a decision made in 2017, GlaxoSmithKline has sold a production site in China—along with rights to antiviral drug lamivudine—to a Fosun Pharma unit, just as it opens new manufacturing facilities worth $95 million in Singapore.
Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s stock plummeted nearly 30% last week following news that Johnson & Johnson had returned the rights of diabetes candidate HM12525A. In two phase 2 trials, the drug met the primary endpoint of weight reduction, but blood glucose control failed J&J’s expectation, Hanmi said. It marked another serious blow for the South Korean company after it lost a BTK inhibitor deal with Eli Lilly in January and one over cancer drug olmutinib with Boehringer Ingelheim in 2016.
Fellow South Korean firm Yuhan is in for a win. After forming a $785 million pact with Gilead Sciences over two NASH drugs in January, it has attracted the interest of Boehringer. The German pharma is picking up a dual agonist of GLP-1 and FGF21 also for NASH, paying Yuhan $40 million upfront and promising up to $830 million in milestone payments.
GlaxoSmithKline has opened new facilities worth about $95 million at its Jurong site in Singapore. One of two new continuous manufacturing facilities will produce APIs for clinical trials, and an expanded building will make APIs for HIV medicines including its key drug Tivicay. At the same time, the British drugmaker has reached a deal to sell its Suzhou factory in China to Fosun Pharma for about $36 million. The sale also includes rights to antiviral drug lamivudine.
At Takeda Pharmaceutical’s recent general meeting, the majority of shareholders backed a proposal that would allow Takeda to claw back executive pay should its Shire deal not live up to expectations, though the clause fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to move through. Influential proxy advisers Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis previously both supported the proposal.
In a warning letter, the FDA lambasted an Aurobindo Pharma plant for using solvents to produce drugs that led to potentially cancer-causing impurities. The letter didn’t call out heart drug valsartan, but the inspection came just weeks after Aurobindo recalled 80 lots of valsartan due to the impurities, and the FDA previously determined that the possible carcinogens can come from processes that use certain solvents.
After a two-week inspection, the FDA has once again cited Biocon’s facilities where it will make its Mylan-partnered challenger to Sanofi’s Lantus. The Indian company said it would respond to the Form 483 soon and that the warning wouldn't affect commercialization plans for the product in the U.S.
Eisai opened its first startup incubator as part of its Cambridge, Massachusetts-based center. Rather than looking at the amyloid beta and tau targets for dementia, the center is focused on modulating the body’s immune mechanism to treat dementia by employing genomics research, data science and precision chemistry.
As the U.S.-China trade spat drags on and as the U.S. has put increasing scrutiny on foreign investments in U.S. high-tech businesses, Chinese cash injection into U.S. biotech has nosedived. In the first six months, Chinese VC funds for U.S. biotech firms dropped to $725 million from $1.65 billion in the same period last year, according to PitchBook.
The U.S. wants Switzerland to hand over a Chinese scientist accused of helping his sister steal trade secrets from GSK, Reuters reported. The sister, a former GSK employee, pleaded guilty last August to attempting to steal confidential research. Gongda Xue, the brother, allegedly received those secrets, conducted tests at his workplace in Basel and sent the results to associates in China.