Fierce Pharma Asia—Takeda's Alunbrig pricing pact; Merck, Japan COVID pill deal; SK Biopharm's Chinese JV

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Takeda's value-based pricing program for Alunbrig, Japan's $1.2 billion purchase of Merck's COVID pill and SK Biopharm's new China operations made our news this week. (Google)

Takeda rolled out a value-based pricing program for Alunbrig as Pfizer promises money back for rival lung cancer drug Xalkori. Merck inked a $1.2 billion supply deal for its Ridgeback Biotherapeutics-partnered COVID pill with Japan. SK Biopharm is entering China via a joint venture with investment shop 6 Dimensions Capital. And more.

1. Takeda launches value-based pricing program for lung cancer med Alunbrig, promises more deals to come

Takeda recently teamed up with Point32Health to launch a value-based pricing program for ALK lung cancer med Alunbrig. The Japanese drugmaker offers a “significant” rebate if a patient comes off treatment within three months because of efficacy or tolerability reasons. The company plans to use the approach with other payers and for other cancer drugs in the future, its U.S. oncology chief said.

2. Merck inks yet another $1B-plus supply deal for COVID pill, this time with Japan

Japan has agreed to buy 1.6 million courses of Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir for $1.2 billion if the pill wins local authorization or approval. The deal comes shortly after the U.S. government agreed to buy another 1.4 million courses of the drug, bringing its total purchase to 3.1 million courses at a cost of $2.2 billion.

3. SK Biopharm enters China via $180M joint venture with Sanofi CNS exec at the helm (Korea Biomedical Review)

SK Biopharmaceuticals has formed a Shanghai-based joint venture with 6 Dimensions Capital. The South Korean firm transferred Chinese rights to six central nervous system drugs to the new biotech, called Ignis Therapeutics, which raised $180 million in a series A financing round. Eileen Long, former head of Sanofi China’s CNS business, has become Ignis’ CEO.

4. Samsung Pharm hit with 3-month production suspension from Korean regulators

Korea’s drug regulator put Samsung Pharm on a three-month manufacturing suspension after noting that the company was using one production manager to oversee operations at two different facilities. The company isn’t affiliated with the multinational conglomerate Samsung Group.

5. HitGen taps Cambridge Molecular for 'deep learning' drug discovery collab

China’s HitGen penned an exclusive alliance with U.K.’s Cambridge Molecular to pair up the two firms’ DNA encoded library drug discovery systems. HitGen has in the past inked drug discovery pacts with some of the world’s largest pharmas including Pfizer, Merck and Biogen.

6. Japan's Meiji Seika to build $20.1M manufacturing plant in India

Japan’s Meiji Seika will invest $20.1 million to build a new manufacturing facility at an existing factory run by its joint venture Adcock Ingram. The new plant is expected to have an 8,000 square meter space and be operational by March 2023.

7. EdiGene teams with UW-Madison to turn RNA base-editing tech into therapies (release)

China’s EdiGene has formed a research collaboration with the University of Wisconsin–Madison. EdiGene’s U.S. R&D center will work with the David Gamm Laboratory—which specializes in human pluripotent stem cells—to evaluate the pharmacological property of therapeutic candidates based on the company’s LEAPER RNA base-editing technology.