FiercePharmaAsia—WuXi NextCODE rebrand; remdesivir generic prices; Sinopharm COVID-19 vax phase 3

Asia Map
WuXi NextCODE, Cipla, Hetero Labs and Sinopharm made our news this week. (Google)

WuXi NextCODE changes its name to Genuity Science without its Shanghai operations amid increased scrutiny over genomics data security. Cipla and Hetero Labs are launching their remdesivir generics in India at around $70 per vial. China's Sinopharm is running its phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United Arab Emirates. And more.

1. WuXi NextCODE rebrands as Genuity Science, sheds Shanghai operations (release)

Genomics informatics and sequencing service giant WuXi NextCODE is rebranding itself as Genuity Science. But the new firm will be running without its Shanghai operations, even though it’s considered a sister firm to Chinese CRO WuXi AppTec. The decision to separate its China business comes as pressure mounts from both sides of the Pacific over genomics data security. Last June, China passed the Human Genetic Resource Regulation that restricts export of Chinese human genetic information. At the same time, influential U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Chuck Grassley pushed for an investigation into WuXi NextCODE over its ties with the Chinese government.

2. Cipla, Hetero Labs launch generic remdesivir in India at around $70 per vial (Reuters)

Indian drugmakers Cipla and Hetero Labs are launching their generic versions of Gilead Sciences’ COVID-19 treatment remdesivir in their home country. Cipla priced its drug at less than Rs 5,000 ($66) per vial, and Hetero will charge Rs 5,400 ($71) per vial for its copy. That means the drugs cost around $350 to $700 per treatment course, depending on which doses a patient needs.

3. China’s Sinopharm goes to UAE for COVID-19 vaccine phase 3 trial (Reuters)

China’s state-owned Sinopharm will run a phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in the United Arab Emirates. The company has two inactivated vaccine candidates, developed by its CNBG subsidiary’s biologics institutes in Wuhan and Beijing. The Wuhan version just reported a positive neutralizing antibody response in a phase 1/2 study.

4. Simcha debuts with $25M to advance custom-built IL-18 for cancer

U.S. biotech Simcha Therapeutics has raised $25 million in series A funding, backed by Chinese investors WuXi AppTec and Sequoia Capital China as well as Connecticut Innovations. The company is working on modified IL-18 as a therapeutic for cancer. Findings by founder Aaron Ring at Yale University showed the drug might help overcome tumor resistance to immunotherapy.

5. Glenmark wins Indian nod for generic to Fujifilm’s Avigan in COVID-19 (release, PDF)

India’s Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has won local approval for a generic version of Fujifilm’s flu drug Avigan (favipiravir) for mild to moderate COVID-19. According to Glenmark, the drug delivered up to 88% clinical improvement in mild to moderate COVID-19 cases, with rapid reduction in viral load in four days.