HK-based Chi-Med to get $10M in Q4 from Lilly for fruquintinib in NSCLC

Hong Kong-based Hutchison China MediTech will get a $10 million milestone payment from Eli Lilly ($LLY) in the fourth quarter for a successful China-based proof-of-concept study of its fruquintinib candidate to treat non-small cell lung cancer, the company said in a release.

The update on the milestone follows an announcement earlier this week by the firm known as Chi-Med of plans for an initial public share sale that will widen a geographic spread that already includes Hong Kong, mainland China, and London for a company that has ramped up clinical activity in oncology candidates by working with multinational partners.

In March, Chi-Med said it had met the primary endpoint of progression-free survival in a Phase II clinical trial for colorectal cancer candidate fruquintinib (HMPL-013), putting it one step closer to China approval, which would be the first modern drug from China since artemisinin was developed in the 1970s to treat malaria.

Those results also triggered milestone payments from Lilly of $18 million for a candidate that saw the companies enter into a co-development and commercialization agreement in October 2013.

Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg

"Pursuant to the fruquintinib licensing, co-development, and commercialization agreement entered into by HMP and Lilly in October 2013, HMP will receive reimbursements for costs associated with further clinical development in China for NSCLC according to a pre-specified cost-sharing rate," Chi-Med said in the release. "We now intend to initiate a pivotal Phase III study of fruquintinib in non-squamous NSCLC in China."

In October, Hutchison MediPharma (HMP) said it had completed enrollment in a global Phase II study of savolitinib it is developing with AstraZeneca ($AZN). Interim data is expected to be published at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in 2016.

Now listed in London, Chi-Med, which holds the majority of R&D unit HMP that is part of the Li Ka-shing-controlled CK Hutchison Holdings, did not offer pricing guidance or even an amount to be raised in the IPO--though interest is expected to be high.

The move to raise money in the U.S. comes as a few high-profile industry-related Chinese companies moved to exit U.S. listings. Last month, Shenzhen-based Mindray Medical ($MR) cut an offer price to $27 per share from $30 in a management-led buyout. China's top CRO WuXi PharmaTech ($WX) is also expected to complete a $3.3 billion buyout and delist from the U.S. market.

However, Beijing-based China biotech BeiGene has announced plans this month to raise as much as $100 million on the Nasdaq in an IPO that follows a steady stream of venture capital and expansion into manufacturing in China.

- here's the release