FiercePharmaAsia—Nobel-winning science; Legend CAR-T data allegation; Unhappy Takeda alumni

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A PD-1 pioneer, Nanjing Legend Biotech and Takeda made our news this week. (Google)

Kyoto University's Tasuku Honjo has jointly received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his discovery in PD-1. China's GenScript strongly denied claims that its Legend Biotech unit, which has partnered up with Johnson & Johnson, forged key CAR-T trial data. As they try to derail the $62 billion Shire buyout, Takeda alumni demand management to offer details on the decision process and on how the company plans to pay down debt.

1. James Allison, Tasuku Honjo win Nobel for CTLA-4/PD-1 discoveries

Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo and U.S. scientist James Allison have jointly received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery in PD-1 and CTLA-4, respectively. Honjo’s discovery in 1992 laid the groundwork for later collaboration with Ono Pharmaceutical, which, together with Bristol-Myers Squibb, brought the world’s very first PD-1 therapy, Opdivo, to the market.

2. Johnson & Johnson CAR-T partner GenScript yo-yos on fake data allegations

The CAR-T therapy from China’s GenScript unit Legend Biotech made headlines at last year’s ASCO meeting. Impressed by the data, Johnson & Johnson paid $350 million upfront to co-develop the drug. But a report from a little-known outfit called Flaming Research claimed that Legend fabricated data and concealed safety problems, as GenScript strongly denied the accusations.

3. Disgruntled Takeda alumni demand a window into $62B Shire buy

A group of about 130 Takeda shareholders, rallied under a group called “Thinking about Takeda’s Bright Future,” has sent an open letter to CEO Christophe Weber. In opposition of the Shire deal, they asked for details on how the company plans to pay down the huge debt it’ll incur with the buyout and on how the company reached the 65% premium price offer.

4. EU regulators blast China’s Zhejiang Huahai over valsartan API mess

Following its U.S. counterpart, the European Medicines Agency has also taken issue with Zhejiang Huahai, criticizing it for negligence in evaluating risks of changes to its manufacturing processes that led to the formation of suspected carcinogens in its valsartan API. It came as the FDA banned all Huahai-made APIs and medicines containing those APIs from entering the U.S.

5. Novartis looks ahead to China with Kymriah manufacturing pact

Novartis is making a $40 million investment to take up 9% of the equity for China’s Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG), which will make CAR-T therapy Kymriah for the Swiss drugmaker in China. In return, Novartis will get worldwide rights to certain CMBG CAR-T technology.

6. Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Unilever in final bidding war for GSK's Horlicks: report

Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola have been shortlisted for a second round of bidding for GlaxoSmithKline’s Indian consumer products business, which include the drinks brand Horlicks. The business could fetch up to $4 billion, analysts have said.

7. Owlstone Medical gets cash injection for breathalyzer tech, eyes China as ‘key market’

British medtech company Owlstone Medical has completed a $50 million funding round, expanding on the first phase of $15 million backed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures. The company aims to enter the commercial stage with its biopsy platform and eyes China as a key market.

8. Dr. Reddy's unloads antibiotics plant to Abu Dhabi-based Neopharma

Dr. Reddy’s is selling a Tennessee antibiotics plant it originally bought from GlaxoSmithKline in 2010 to Abu Dhabi-based Neopharma. While the sale fits Dr. Reddy’s plan to streamline costs, it gives Neopharma its first plant in the U.S. An attorney for Neopharma reportedly said it will expand the plant to have 100 workers.

9. Novotech reaches deal to bring early phase trials to Bangkok hospital

Australian CRO Novotech has partnered with Bangkok’s Phramongkutklao hospital and clinical research center to conduct early phase clinical trials. The collaboration followed another one Novotech just formed with a Philippines-based ophthalmology firm.