Fierce Pharma Asia—Takeda's $300M deal; Lonza's plant closure; US bill targets certain Chinese firms

Takeda paid $300 million upfront to license a blood disorder candidate. Lonza will close a biologics plant in China. A U.S. draft bill targets several Chinese biotech companies. And more.

1. Takeda acts as Protagonist, paying $300M for licensing rights to late-stage hematology asset

Takeda agreed to pay $300 million upfront to in-license Protagonist Therapeutics’ rusfertide, a hepcidin mimetic designed to treat polycythemia vera, a rare chronic blood disorder. Protagonist could eventually choose to co-commercialize the drug in the U.S. or opt for higher milestone and royalty payments. The drug had its FDA breakthrough designation pulled in 2022 because of “observed malignancies.”

2. Lonza closes plant in China but CDMO's sales signal an uptick in industry

Lonza has confirmed that it will shutter a biologics production plant in Guangzhou, China. The site was opened in 2021 and employs 400. This closure, along with Lonza’s plan to close another facility in Hayward, California, will begin this quarter and end in the first quarter of 2025. The Swiss CDMO giant also reported a chairman transition and quarterly earnings that exceeded expectations.

3. WuXi Biologics plays defense after US bill brands certain Chinese biopharmas as security threats

A House committee unveiled a bill targeting so-called “foreign adversary biotech companies of U.S. national security concern.” The proposed bill would ban certain Chinese biotechs from accessing U.S. government contracts. WuXi AppTec, WuXi Biologics and BGI are listed as “companies of concern.” WuXi Bio’s stock plummeted at the news, and the company put out statements seeking to clarify the situation.

4. Daiichi Sankyo again dials up Enhertu sales forecast, advances 2nd AstraZeneca-partnered ADC

Daiichi Sankyo has increased its forecast for AstraZeneca-partnered Enhertu to now expect the antibody-drug conjugate to collect 383.9 billion Japanese yen ($2.6 billion) for the 12 months ending March 31. However, the improvement comes from outside the U.S., as the company reduced the drug’s U.S. sales estimate by $30 million to $1.58 billion.

5. After GSK and Novartis handoffs, Laekna's drug fails ovarian cancer trial

Shanghai-based Laekna said its ATK inhibitor afuresertib has failed in a global phase 2 registrational trial in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. A combination of the drug and the chemotherapy paclitaxel failed to beat paclitaxel alone at preventing disease progression or death. The Chinese biotech picked up the drug in a licensing deal with Novartis in 2018.

6. Samsung taps Lunit to bring AI detection to its chest X-ray scanners

Samsung’s Boston Imaging unit has tapped South Korean artificial intelligence developer Lunit to equip its chest X-ray scanners, GM85 and GC85A Vision, with programs that automatically highlight critical conditions. The deal is built around two AI platforms that together can detect 10 of the most common lung abnormalities. Samsung will also help Lunit validate AI solutions for other conditions such as an enlarged heart muscle, calcification, fibrosis and tuberculosis.

Other News of Note:

7. FDA slams Eugia with Form 483 and posts older reprimands for AGC, Baxter

8. Singapore's Genetic Design and Manufacturing reels in $21M in series A funding

9. Takeda wins FDA approval for immunoglobulin therapy Gammagard Liquid for CIDP (release)