FiercePharmaAsia—J&J-Legend CAR-T team-up, Eisai-Biogen Alzheimer’s flop, Impax’s deals

Nanjing Legend Biotech, Johnson & Johnson, Eisai, Biogen and Impax made our news.

Welcome to 2018's first issue of FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about Nanjing Legend's CAR-T collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, Eisai and Biogen Alzheimer's drug's gloomy prospect, Impax's plant and Rytary deal with Taiwan's Bora Pharma, and more.

1. After impressing at ASCO, Legend gains Johnson & Johnson as new CAR-T partner

Back at 2017’s ASCO annual meeting, Nanjing Legend Biotech surprised everyone with its promising early clinical data from anti-BCMA CAR-T product LCAR-B38M in multiple myeloma. It attracted the attention of Johnson & Johnson, which is paying a hefty $350 million upfront for the product’s rights outside of Greater China.

2. Eisai and Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug flunks early adaptive trial readout

Early readout from Eisai and Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug BAN2401 doesn’t look good. But the duo insisted that the 12-month data doesn’t necessarily mean the end for the therapy and is determined to finish the trial till its 18-month endpoint. Nevertheless, the miss adds to anxiety that the candidate will join many other anti-amyloid programs that have ended in failure.

3. Impax sells Taiwan plant, strikes Rytary supply deal with Bora Pharmaceuticals

Impax has found a buyer for its once-troubled manufacturing site in Taiwan. Local company Bora Pharmaceuticals will pay Impax $18.5 million for the 400,000 square-foot plant and is also tasked to supply some Impax products, including Parkinson’s drug Rytary. Bora also got rights to sell Rytary in Taiwan.

4. Families target Philippine officials and Sanofi executives with request for criminal charges

More than 70 mothers whose children were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in the Philippines are now asking authorities to file criminal charges against former government officials like ex-President Benigno Aquino III and Sanofi executives, including CEO Olivier Brandicourt. Their legal complaint claimed that the officials are “guilty of gross inexcusable negligence” for rolling out the program without due diligence.

5. GenScript boosts synthetic biology with CustomArray buy

Nanjing Legend’s parent company GenScript is buying U.S.-based CustomArray, adding new synthetic biology capabilities in areas such as CRISPR and antibody engineering. CustomArray offers oligonucleotide pools and DNA microarrays in those applications.

6. Recipharm scoops up rest of Indian sterile drugmaker Nitin

Swedish CDMO Recipharm will pay about $43 million in cash and $10 million in shares for the remaining 26% of Nitin Lifesciences’ shares. That’s after it shelled out $105.2 million two years ago for a 74% stake in the Indian sterile injectables drugmaker.  Recipharma CEO Thomas Eldered said the deal will create better synergies with its other Indian operations.

7. Inovio grabs $23M through HPV immunotherapy licensing deal with China’s ApolloBio

Inovio has tweaked its Greater China licensing deal over HPV immunotherapy VGX-3100 with ApolloBio. ApolloBio will pay $8 million more compared with the original deal, or $23 million, upfront. And the two also removed a previous item that allowed ApolloBio to purchase into Inovio. The contract came as HPV vaccine is gaining popularity in China.

8. U.K. cites Apotex plant in India; action comes in midst of probe into death of Apotex founder

Citing risk for cross-contamination, U.K.’s regulatory agency has pulled the manufacturing certificate for an Apotex solid-dose plant in Bangalore, India. The Canadian pharma has a long history problems uncovered by the FDA, and this time, all EU countries will get the alert to consider recalling products manufactured at the site.

9. Clinigen to offer Eisai’s Halaven, Fycompa and Lenvima in 10 African countries

Based on the successful launch of breast cancer med Halaven and anti-epileptic drug Fycompa in South Africa, Clinigen has expanded its licensing agreement with Eisai to market the two drugs plus Lenvima in 10 African countries.