FiercePharmaAsia—Sun’s gloomy outlook, Grail’s Asian M&A, InventisBio’s $19M series B

FDA issues at a Halol plant contributed to Sun Pharma's 34% U.S. sales drop in the quarter ended March 31.

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about Sun Pharma's lackluster fourth-quarter performance, Grail's merger with Hong Kong's Cirina, China cancer upstart InventisBio's $19 million series B backed by Lilly, and more.

1. Sun takes Q4 hit and 2018 looks worse as FDA problems at Halol undermine U.S. sales

Sun’s U.S. sales dropped significantly—34% to be exact—in the last quarter ended March 31. The fall was in part because of a short-time exclusive status of its generic of Novartis’ cancer drug Gleevec in last year's quarter, and could also from pressure on prices, but adding to those factors are “the delays of approvals because of the problems at Halol” and the fact the company has yet to satisfy regulators. It said investors should expect more sales declines this year. 

2. Grail goes global, merges with Hong Kong’s Cirina

Menlo Park, California-based Grail, which works to develop liquid biopsies for cancer detection and is fresh off a $900 million series B, has agreed to merge with Hong Kong-based Cirina. That company, cofounded by Dennis Lo, the first scientist to learn of the presence of fetal DNA in a mother’s blood plasma, gives Grail an opportunity to move into Asian markets. 

3. Lilly, OrbiMed back China cancer upstart InventisBio in $19M series B

Shanghai-based cancer and gout biotech InventisBio has raised $19 million in a series B financing, just a year after its $11 million series A. OrbiMed Asia Partners and an original backer, Lilly Asia Ventures, led the round. The startup has operations in the U.S. and has four early-stage medications, three of which are expected to enter phase 1 in the U.S. and China by the end of the year.

4. Chiltern buys Japanese CRO IDA, boosting its Asia footprint

Chiltern has acquired Japanese CRO Integrated Development Associates, which provides drug development and commercialization consultancy for projects that include Japan filings in the process. IDA specializes in the clinical trial management, regulatory filing and marketing strategy for the Japanese market, but also has staff in South Korea and the Philippines.

5. Takeda superheroes of 'IBD Unmasked' return in continuing comic book saga

Takeda’s “IBD Superheroes” comic book installment took home our #FierceMadness DTC trophy a few weeks ago. The Japanese pharma, working with Marvel, has rolled out a new chapter in the inflammatory bowel disease awareness campaign, called “IBD Unmasked,” to drive awareness and support for patients.

6. Otsuka expanding oncology API production

A month after Daiichi Sankyo announced plans for a major investment in cancer drug production, Japanese compatriot Otsuka said it is also investing about ¥7 billion ($62.9 million) to expand a facility operated by its oncology-focused subsidiary Taiho Pharmaceutical.

7. Medical device CRO Genae invests in Japanese CRO Meditrix

Medical devices-focused CRO Genae invested in Meditrix, a Japanese CRO in the same field, and obtained a call option to acquire the latter in full. Meditrix is known for its proprietary electronic data capture system for clinical trials, and has clinical operations scattered across the country. The deal will help Genae’s foreign med tech customers to penetrate the complex Japanese system.