FiercePharmaAsia—Takeda-Shire finish line; Sun’s crisis; J&J-Legend CAR-T

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Takeda-Shire shareholder votes, Sun Pharma, J&J and Legend Biotech's CAR-T made our news this week. (Google)

Takeda and Shire shareholders separately approved their megamerger despite opposition from prominent members of the Takeda founding family. Sun Pharma faces a long list of allegations including insider trading and corporate governance problems. Janssen and Legend Biotech’s CAR-T therapy, which caught attention at ASCO 2017, has returned with updated positive results. And more.

1. Takeda CEO gets his Shire megamerger, thanks to shareholder nod. Can he make it pay off?

Takeda could rack up $10B in selloffs after controversial Shire buyout: report

In a landmark win for CEO Christophe Weber, Takeda shareholders voted 88% in favor of the Shire acquisition, now valued at around $58 billion. As Shire investors also voted overwhelmingly in favor, Takeda expects to close the deal Jan. 8. Weber now needs to execute the integration carefully amid opposition from prominent members of the Takeda founding family.

2. Mismanagement allegations send Sun Pharma stock tumbling: What we know so far

Sun Pharma’s shares slid on worries about a potential government investigation that could touch upon alleged insider trading. The situation worsened as an analyst leveled allegations of mismanagement, including the Indian drugmaker’s skyrocketing loans to employees and others. Managing Director Dilip Shanghvi rallied investors for clarification, but a few key questions remain unanswered.

3. ASH18: J&J, Legend CAR-T treatment posts 88% ORR in multiple myeloma

Janssen and Legend Biotech’s BCMA-targeted CAR-T therapy achieved a 74% complete response rate in a phase 1/2 study on 57 patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, 74% of whom had the most advanced stage of the disease. The median progression-free survival reached 15 months among all treated patients and was 24 months for MRD-negative patients.

4. Big Pharma’s off-patent drugs lose out in China’s new price-cutting scheme

China is piloting a new bulk purchase scheme for some generic drugs in 11 major cities. Among the 31 drugs included in the first round of bidding, multinational pharmas participated in bids to supply almost all of them but landed only two contracts, according to preliminary tender results. However, local firms aren’t considered winners, either, as steep price cuts scared investors.

5. GSK wraps up promised Horlicks sell-off in £3.1B deal with Unilever

GSK has signed over its Indian consumer health operations to Unilever for £3.1 billion. The proceeds could help GSK pay down debt from its consumer deal with Novartis and invest in its pharma pipeline—for example, its $5.1 billion acquisition of cancer-focused Tesaro, which has PARP inhibitor Zejula, three clinical assets and an oncology commercial team.

6. DOJ tells Supreme Court it has lost interest in its Gilead whistleblower case

The U.S. Justice Department has decided to scuttle a whistleblower case against Gilead that's now up for review by the Supreme Court. The case alleges that the drugmaker bought some of the active ingredients used in HIV drugs Emtriva, Truvada and Atripla from an unapproved Chinese manufacturer but told the FDA it came from a South Korean producer.

7. Walmart and Aurobindo sued as litigation mounts over contaminated blood pressure drugs

A class-action lawsuit filed in Florida cited Walmart, India’s Aurobindo, New York-based ScieGen Pharmaceuticals and distributor Westminster Pharmaceuticals over the sales of irbesartan because the drug contained the possible carcinogen NDEA.

8. ASH: Takeda maintenance data set up Ninlaro for new myeloma nod

As a maintenance therapy for multiple myeloma patients who’ve been treated with chemo and undergone a stem cell transplant, Takeda’s Ninlaro showed it could cut the risk of disease progression or death by 28% compared to placebo. The drug also displayed low toxicity levels.

9. Brii Biosciences ramps up with VBI Vaccines partnership, new R&D headquarters

China-focused Brii Biosciences, which launched earlier this year with $260 million in committed capital and a trio of partnerships, is expanding its collaboration with George Scangos’ Vir Biotechnologies, inking a new deal with VBI Vaccines, and setting up an R&D center in Beijing.

10. Fresenius makes a flurry of deals in Chinese dialysis clinics and hospitals

Following investments in China in 2017 and this summer, Fresenius Medical Care has once again dramatically widened its footprint in China’s dialysis market, acquiring majority stakes in multiple Chinese companies and hospital systems.

11. Merck set to expand its Chinese R&D facilities in coming year

Merck KGaA will open a new R&D center in Guangzhou, China, next year and will debut a new life sciences center in the country as part of an effort to support biopharma development in the growing market, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

12. Lundbeck and Otuska’s brexpiprazole hits the mark in PTSD trial

Lundbeck and Otsuka’s Rexulti-Zoloft cocktail bested placebo in a 321-patient PTSD phase 2 trial, a feat neither drug alone achieved. That could open up a new indication for Rexulti, which was approved in depressive disorder in 2015 but has since hit some snags.

13. Chinese drugmaker pours $145M into plant with plan to produce innovative biologics

Changzhou Qianhong Bio-Pharma, which makes heparin, APIs and some finished drugs, has started construction of a $145 million manufacturing project, the second phase of which will focus on biologics targeting cancers, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

14. After Dengvaxia scandal spooks parents, experts warn of measles threat in Philippines

The Philippines’ measles cases have grown fivefold to more than 17,000 so far this year, according to WHO. And as a local vaccine advocate sees it, it was the result of lower trust in vaccines caused by Sanofi’s Dengvaxia brouhaha.

15. Eisai puts water-focused portraits at the center of new breast cancer initiative

A series of arresting photos of people with metastatic breast cancer are at the heart of Eisai’s new initiative in its #ThisIsMBC campaign. The portraits incorporate water, which is meant to symbolize MBC.