FiercePharmaAsia—Pfizer’s China JV, Otsuka-Proteus’ digital pill, Astellas’ charity donations

Pfizer, Otsuka, Astellas, Takeda, Shanghai Pharma and Lupin made the news this week.

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about Pfizer ditching its interest in a Chinese JV with Hisun Pharma, Otsuka and partner Proteus' FDA approval for the first-ever digital medicine, investigations into Astellas' charity donations, and more.

1. After much hype, Pfizer finally pulls away from Chinese JV

Pfizer has sold all of its 49% stake in a Chinese joint venture with Zhejiang Hisun Pharma. The company, founded by the two companies in 2012 with registered capital of $250 million, develops, manufactures and sells branded generic drugs in China and beyond. The divesture came after Tazocin supply issues put a huge dent in the company’s sales.

2. Otsuka, Proteus win FDA approval for digital medicine

The FDA approved the U.S.’s first digital medicine, Abilify MyCite, developed by a partnership between Otsuka and Proteus. The product combines Otsuka’s schizophrenia drug and Proteus’ ingestible sensor that can track whether patients have taken the medication. Otsuka now has to persuade people to use the digital pill over generic competitors.

3. Astellas joins crowd of pharmas under investigation for copay charity donations

Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Biogen and others have previously acknowledged that they’re under criminal and civil investigation for their contributions to charities that help patients cover drug costs. Now Astellas has also joined the list. The probes aim to make sure that the donations, as decreed, aren’t tied to the usage of specific drugs.

4. Cardinal Health unloads China business to Shanghai Pharma for $557M

Cardinal Health is exiting the Chinese market, selling its pharmaceutical and medical product distribution business to Shanghai Pharma for $557 million in cash. One of the Big 3 drug distributors in the U.S., Cardinal has managed to rank only eighth in China. Shanghai Pharma said Cardinal’s distribution and DTP pharmacy network will be complementary to its own.

5. Takeda, Lundbeck plan U.S. test for depression app in latest beyond-the-pill foray

Otsuka isn’t the only one with digital health plans. Takeda has teamed with Lundbeck and Advocate Health Care on a pilot study that uses an app to track and measure patients’ experience on antidepressant therapies. The tool is designed to inform patients of their own progress or problems, as well as for communication with physicians.

6. FDA warning blasts Lupin for failing to learn from past mistakes

The FDA has posted a warning letter that Lupin has previously acknowledged receiving. The letter applies to Lupin’s key finished products plant in Goa and one in Indore, India. The agency said the company keeps repeating its mistakes, and that it should assess its entire manufacturing network. The plant problem has thwarted Lupin’s efforts to sell some drugs in the U.S.

7. Takeda leverages lung cancer awareness month to highlight ALK variant

For lung cancer awareness month, Takeda rolled out the “tALK+” (Talk Positive) campaign for the ALK-positive form of lung cancer, which affects around 2% to 8% of all non-small cell lung cancer patients. For every insight and story with the hashtag #tALKpositiveNSCLC during November, Takeda will make a donation to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.