FiercePharmaAsia—JLABS’ Shanghai site, Sanofi’s Dengvaxia crisis, Astellas’ $450M DMD buy

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Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and Astellas made the news this week.

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about JLABS' first program outside of North America, a series of repercussions in the Philippines over Sanofi's Dengvaxia safety issue, Astellas' acquisition of mitochondrial company Mitobridge, and more.

1. Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS looks east as it lands in Shanghai

Johnson & Johnson has picked Shanghai to station its first center outside of North America. The 4,400-square-meter facility will be located in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, where lots of biopharma companies large or small are based. The new site is slated to open in the second quarter of 2019 and have capacity to host up to 50 life science and healthcare startups.

2. Philippines plans legal action against Sanofi over Dengvaxia safety scare: official

Sanofi ordered to pull Dengvaxia in Philippines as safety episode escalates

Sanofi's Dengvaxia scrutiny mounts as Philippines slams brakes on dengue shots

Sanofi soon found itself in a quagmire after it released an analysis about Dengvaxia’s potential harm to dengue-naïve people. The WHO amended its recommendation, and the Philippines—the first country to have rolled out a mass immunization program—has pulled the vaccine off the market, initiated a Justice Department-led investigation into health officials’ original decision and sworn to take legal action against Sanofi.

3. Astellas buys DMD drug in $450M mitochondrial takeover

Astellas partnered with Mitobridge (then Mitokyne) in 2013 for rights to a few candidates that target mitochondrial function. Now, the Japanese pharma has exercised its option to buy the company in full, a deal that could be valued at $450 million. The lead project, MA-2011, currently in phase 1, is a PPAR-delta modulator intended for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

4. Mylan and Biocon win FDA nod for Herceptin copy and move biosim forward in EU

Having cleared a Biocon plant of manufacturing issues, the FDA has approved its Mylan-partnered Herceptin biosimilar, Ogivri. After approving the pair’s plan to fix issues at the plant, the EMA had also accepted their resubmitted application for the same drug, as well as for their copy of Amgen’s Neulasta.

5. WuXi says it has China's largest biologics manufacturing plant up and running

WuXi Biologics’ $150 million, 30,000-liter-capacity biologics facility is now in full operations. Two 1,000-liter bioreactors for perfusion processes were completed last year, and now 14 additional 2,000-liter bioreactors for fed-batch cell culture have started. The company pointed to the China Marketing Authorization Holder pilot program for potential contract manufacturing businesses pouring in.

6. PharmaForce investing $145M in Ohio sterile injectables operations

CDMO PharmaForce, which belongs to a U.S. subsidiary of Daiichi Sankyo that makes sterile injectable drugs, will invest about $145 million to add 140,000 square feet to its New Albany, Ohio, site, and another 1,800 square feet to a production facility in Hilliard, Ohio. The new round of expansion will create 80 new jobs, the company said.