A pho­to log of my week in Shang­hai, host­ing the first an­nu­al US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit

I’ve re­turned from a week in Shang­hai af­ter host­ing our first BI­IS con­fer­ence in Chi­na. It was ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly suc­cess­ful from my stand­point as the chief ex­ec­u­tive here at End­points News. (Yes, we’ll be re­turn­ing even big­ger in 2019.) This year we were joined by 250 del­e­gates who came to par­tic­i­pate in two days of meet­ings fea­tur­ing some of the most rec­og­niz­able names in the biotech world — which is led firm­ly by the Unit­ed States and Chi­na now.

The BI­IS con­fer­ence was cre­at­ed from scratch to gath­er bio­phar­ma lead­ers from around the world in an ul­tra-mod­ern fo­rum con­duct­ed in both Eng­lish and Chi­nese. Re­al­time trans­la­tions were pro­vid­ed in both lan­guages. The goal was to pro­vide com­mon space for serendip­i­tous ac­tion and part­ner­ship be­tween del­e­gates and speak­ers. Thanks to the hard work by the joint team at End­points and Pharm­cube, that vi­sion be­came a re­al­i­ty this week.

John Car­roll’s fire­side chat with Fa­heem Has­nain


Vivek Ra­maswamy lis­tens to re­al-time trans­la­tion of Dr. Jin­hui Gu’s keynote


Nisa Le­ung of Qim­ing Ven­tures de­liv­ers her keynote ad­dress 


Karen Liu, founder of 3E BioVen­tures, ad­dress­es del­e­gates


Grace Lu of Rus­sell Reynolds mod­er­ates a pan­el on the chal­lenges of re­cruit­ing tal­ent in this com­pet­i­tive bio­phar­ma mar­ket


Mem­bers of the End­points team at gala din­ner


I want­ed to give read­ers some brief im­pres­sions along­side a lengthy vi­su­al log in­to what the sum­mit was like. I’ll start with of­fi­cial pic­tures from the con­fer­ence and mix in some shots from my per­son­al iPhone as well to­ward the end.

by Ar­salan Arif


John Oyler BeiGene


John Oyler, the Amer­i­can CEO and founder of Chi­na-based Beigene, is a true pi­o­neer in the US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma sphere, and as such we se­lect­ed him as one of our chair­peo­ple for the BI­IS sum­mit. He kicked off the pro­ceed­ings with a keynote and took meet­ings at BI­IS through­out the day, stay­ing for the gala din­ner Mon­day evening.

Two things he said stuck out to me: 1) Chi­na will be the top coun­try for bio­med­ical clin­i­cal re­search in the near fu­ture, full stop; and 2) Chi­na en­ables an al­ter­na­tive busi­ness mod­el for bio­phar­ma where com­pa­nies no longer have to re­ly on ex­ist­ing US pric­ing schemes to be vi­able.


John Car­roll End­points News


Our own John Car­roll was up next. He has over one mil­lion words on the record over his 15 years of biotech cov­er­age. Over the course of the week I met count­less Chi­nese bio­phar­ma ex­ec­u­tives who re­count­ed sto­ries to me when they first start­ed read­ing John Car­roll. As long­time read­ers know, both John and I were at a pre­vi­ous com­pa­ny, pub­lish­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent ban­ner, pri­or to found­ing End­points News in June 2016. It was in­spir­ing to hear how many ex­ec­u­tives John has helped learn the ins and outs of bio­phar­ma from his cov­er­age ear­ly in their ca­reers, and now them­selves have moved in­to the ranks of peo­ple John and his team of ed­i­tors at End­points cov­er. John has been say­ing “Chi­na is com­ing” for eight years now. Chi­na has ful­ly ar­rived. There’s tremen­dous pro­fes­sion­al sat­is­fac­tion in be­ing on the ground, in full force, cov­er­ing it for our read­ers now.


Leon Chen 6 Di­men­sions


Chair­ing day two is one of the most in­flu­en­tial Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists in the world: Leon Chen, the found­ing part­ner and CEO of 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal, the prod­uct of a re­cent merg­er of Front­line BioVen­tures and WuXi Ven­tures.

Dr. Chen is a mem­ber of the Ex­pert Re­view Pan­el for the Chi­nese Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment’s “1000 Tal­ents Pro­ject” and thus has keen in­sights in­to the re­cent phe­nom­e­non of Chi­nese tal­ent com­ing back af­ter train­ing and get­ting a foothold in Amer­i­ca. He’s led a num­ber of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ences, in­clud­ing Curon, Hua Med­i­cine, In­novent, Ada­gene, and many more. If you read End­points News, Leon Chen is a reg­u­lar fix­ture when we re­port on the lat­est star­tups out of both Chi­na and the Unit­ed States.


Mingde Yu 于明德 Chair­man, Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion

Jin­hui Gu 顾金辉 Di­rec­tor, Of­fice of Ma­jor Drug De­vel­op­ment


We were de­light­ed to host two ma­jor fig­ures from Chi­na’s key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions. No un­der­stand­ing of Chi­na is com­plete with­out the per­spec­tive of these se­nior lead­ers and how they view this cur­rent mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of Chi­na’s bio­phar­ma in­dus­try. For Eng­lish-on­ly BI­IS at­ten­dees, re­al-time trans­la­tions were key, as one of our cen­tral goals was to make every part of the con­fer­ence ac­ces­si­ble to all re­gard­less of lan­guage.

Mingde Yu de­liv­ered a keynote on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around the re­mark­able progress be­ing made in Chi­na. He’s cur­rent­ly the chair­man of the Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing been in mul­ti­ple lead­er­ship roles in key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions.

And on Tues­day we heard from Dr. Jin­hui Gu, di­rec­tor of the Na­tion­al Health Com­mis­sion’s Na­tion­al Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Ma­jor Pro­jects for New Drug De­vel­op­ment. He ad­min­is­ters a gov­ern­ment grant pro­gram of 33 bil­lion RMB which sup­ports al­most every new drug de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that has re­ceived mar­ket ap­proval in re­cent years. With more than 15 years work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Chi­na’s high­est reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies, he made it clear that there is a clear man­date for Chi­nese-led in­no­v­a­tive drug de­vel­op­ment right from the top. And while much progress has been made, we’re still in the ear­ly days of Chi­na’s con­tri­bu­tion here.


Fred Co­hen Vi­da Ven­tures


Fred Co­hen, the co-founder and se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Vi­da Ven­tures, de­liv­ered an in­spir­ing keynote ad­dress on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around en­tre­pre­neur­ship and the lessons Chi­nese bio­phar­ma in­vestors might learn from the US bio­phar­ma ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ence.

As many in our au­di­ence know, on top of his in­vest­ing ca­reer Dr. Co­hen was at UCSF from 1980-2014 hold­ing mul­ti­ple re­spon­si­bil­i­ties rang­ing from re­search sci­en­tist to chief of en­docrinol­o­gy and me­tab­o­lism. He’s pub­lished over 200 peer re­view ar­ti­cles, and was elect­ed to the In­sti­tute of Med­i­cine and Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in 2004, and the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Sci­ences in 2008. He’s keen­ly in­ter­est in Chi­na and we had a great chat about the CRO busi­ness in Asia-Pa­cif­ic and just how much it dif­fers from what we see state­side. (Hint: They’re crit­i­cal­ly im­por­tant to the bio­phar­ma in­fra­struc­ture in Chi­na, much more so than what we see state­side.)


Nisa Le­ung Qim­ing Ven­tures


Nisa Le­ung is the man­ag­ing part­ner of one of Chi­na’s top VC firms which man­ages over US$4 bil­lion in as­sets and has in­vest­ed in over 270 com­pa­nies. Ear­li­er this year we at End­points News named her as one of the top 12 Chi­na VCs that you need to know. She point­ed­ly brought up the trade war be­tween the US and Chi­na and said al­though it will have a neg­a­tive im­pact, we need to pre­pare for a sec­ond Trump term and weath­er the storm be­cause the US-Chi­na re­la­tion­ship pre­dates and will out­last Trump.


Fa­heem Has­nain Gos­samer Bio


Fa­heem Has­nain, the ex-CEO at Re­cep­tos and now co-founder of Gos­samer Bio, had a juicy fire­side chat with John Car­roll.  He told the au­di­ence how glum the mood was in the room with his up­per man­age­ment team af­ter they had just closed the $7 bil­lion Cel­gene sale. Glum, you read that right. Fa­heem re­count­ed for the BI­IS au­di­ence in raw de­tail what John Car­roll had al­ready re­port­ed on for the on­line End­points au­di­ence back in Jan­u­ary this year, and he took it a step fur­ther in Shang­hai ex­plain­ing just why Cel­gene isn’t pleased with him these days. He’s mak­ing it as easy as pos­si­ble for tal­ent to flock back to what he and his team are do­ing at Gos­samer.


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant


Vivek Ra­maswamy gave one of the most provoca­tive speech­es of the sum­mit, and then im­me­di­ate­ly sat down with John Car­roll for a fire­side chat to de­fend his pre­dic­tions. His bold call that bio­phar­ma will have fig­ured out all of its “col­lec­tive ac­tion prob­lems” by 2035 in­stant­ly sent lo­cal WeChat groups abuzz with chat­ter.

Lo­cal Chi­nese in­vestors and en­tre­pre­neurs that I spoke with were keen­ly aware of the $4 bil­lion Vivek has raised for his Vants and the 34 pro­grams they’ve got in the clin­ic. Lat­er on in the day I saw him around the Four Sea­sons, hav­ing lunch with sev­er­al del­e­gates and be­ing in­ter­ro­gat­ed about his plans for Sino­vant and Data­vant.


Brad Lon­car Lon­car In­vest­ments


Brad Lon­car is well known to End­points read­ers as a con­trib­u­tor to this pub­li­ca­tion, and as a biotech an­a­lyst and in­de­pen­dent in­vestor who has cre­at­ed mul­ti­ple life sci­ences ETF prod­ucts for in­vestors — his two ini­tial prod­ucts are $CN­CR and $CHNA.


This trip was my first time to Chi­na. I could not have asked for a bet­ter part­ner than the im­pres­sive team at Pharm­cube. Pro­duc­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al event in 90 days from a stand­ing start, which is what the team above did, can on­ly be done by a group of peo­ple who gen­uine­ly en­joy work­ing to­geth­er. The cru­cible can get hot. Above, pic­tured from left to right, is Richard Wang, Jean Cheng, my­self, Am­ber Tong, Jian­hua Jiang, and Chaowei Guo. Be­low is the en­tire Pharm­cube-End­points Chi­na team.

If you haven’t been to Chi­na yet, but fol­low Chi­na with in­ter­est, the su­perla­tives that come with Shang­hai all ap­ply. It’s spec­tac­u­lar. Un­like any city I’ve ever been to. The area that our con­fer­ence was in, Pudong, was grass fields 10 years ago. Now tow­ers of spec­tac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture shoot to the sky, con­nect­ed with thought­ful in­fra­struc­ture at pre­cise­ly the right widths and den­si­ty.

I’m from Kansas, came of age in DC and the I-95 cor­ri­dor, been all over the West Coast, trav­eled ex­ten­sive­ly across these Unit­ed States. And we have no frame of ref­er­ence for this kind of de­vel­op­ment.

There are some pre­dic­tions which this sum­mit has gal­va­nized for me — name­ly, that Chi­na will be the num­ber one na­tion for clin­i­cal re­search in due time — and oth­er pre­dic­tions that I’m am­biva­lent on. Ei­ther way, there will be more di­a­logue and End­points News and our part­ner Pharm­cube will con­tin­ue to fa­cil­i­tate the very best high-lev­el meet­ing that US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma pro­fes­sion­als can turn to. And you can ex­pect that on an an­nu­al ba­sis.

Here’s a sun­rise view from my ho­tel room at the Four Sea­sons.

Lat­er here I’m work­ing from the 35th floor on Sat­ur­day be­fore the con­fer­ence. The views are ar­rest­ing.

There’s a qual­i­ty to it that I couldn’t quite put my fin­ger on.

Be­ing from Kansas, I’m used to “free­dom-lov­ing coun­try” where in­di­vid­u­al­ism and a right to pri­va­cy is sim­ply the de­fault. So to get bio­met­ri­cal­ly scanned up­on ar­rival at the air­port, you take no­tice. Every­thing is reg­is­tered. Every­thing. My fel­low Kansan Brad Lon­car tweet­ed about los­ing his pass­port and iPad on a bench Tues­day night af­ter our #BI­IS18 con­fer­ence con­clud­ed.

If he’d done that in NYC, prob­a­bly Kansas too, his iden­ti­ty would have been stolen and his new Ap­ple prod­uct as good as gone. In­stead the po­lice showed up the next morn­ing at his ho­tel room be­cause some­one had turned it in, and the au­thor­i­ties knew where to find Brad Lon­car.

That kind of sys­tem is new to a Kansan.

Glu­cose Biosen­sor Sys­tems CEO Har­ry Sime­oni­dis an­nounces news at the con­fer­ence


Rus­sell Reynolds Grace Lu in­tro­duces her pan­el on tal­ent re­cruit­ment


Vivek Ra­maswamy gives an ex­plain­er on his Vants


End­points founder/CEO Ar­salan Arif mod­er­ates a pan­el on what US ex­ecs want from Chi­nese deals


Janet Mc­Ni­cholas with Jones Day speaks with Vi­da Ven­tures’ Fred Co­hen


Pharm­cube’s Jean Cheng 程静 mod­er­ates a pan­el on the Chi­nese on­col­o­gy pipeline


John Car­roll and Vivek Ra­maswamy fire­side chat


Na­tal­ie Chen of the Hong Kong stock ex­change ex­plains their new rules on list­ing


John Oyler, Founder and CEO of BeiGene, de­liv­ers a keynote ad­dress


Nisa Le­ung meets with del­e­gates


Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan [via Bloomberg/Getty]

I’m not per­fect: No­var­tis chief Vas Narasimhan al­most apol­o­gizes in the wake of a new cri­sis

Vas Narasimhan has warily stepped up with what might pass as something close to a borderline apology for the latest scandal to engulf Novartis.

But he couldn’t quite get there.

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Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
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Saqib Islam. CheckRare via YouTube

Spring­Works seeks $115M to push Pfiz­er drugs across fin­ish line while Sat­suma sells mi­graine play in $86M IPO

SpringWorks and Satsuma — both biotech spinouts that have closed B rounds in April — are loading up with IPO cash to boost their respective late-stage plans.
SpringWorks

Bain-backed SpringWorks is the better-known company of the two, and it’s gunning for a larger windfall of $115 million to add to $228 million from previous financings. In the process, the Stamford, CT-based team is also drawing the curtains on the partnerships it has in mind for the pair of assets it had initially licensed from Pfizer.

Mi­nor­i­ty racial groups con­tin­ue to be dis­mal­ly rep­re­sent­ed in can­cer tri­als — study

Data reveal that different racial and ethnic groups — by nature and/or nurture — can respond differently in terms of pharmacokinetics, efficacy, or safety to therapeutics, but this disparity is not necessarily accounted for in clinical trials. A fresh analysis of the last decade of US cancer drug approvals suggests the trend continues, cementing previous research that suggests oncology trials are woefully under-representative of the racial makeup of the real world.

Van­da shares slide af­ter FDA spurns their big end­point and re­jects a pitch on jet lag re­lief

Back in the spring of last year, Vanda Pharmaceuticals $VNDA served up a hot stew of mixed data for a slate of endpoints related to what they called clear evidence that their melatonin sleep drug Hetlioz (tasimelteon) could help millions of travelers suffering from jet lag.

Never mind that they couldn’t get a planned 90 people in the study, settling for 25 instead; Vanda CEO Mihael H. Polymeropoulos said they were building on a body of data to prove it would help jet-lagged patients looking for added sleep benefits. And that, they added, would be worth a major upgrade from the agency as they sought to tackle a big market.

Jim Mellon [via YouTube]

Health­i­er, longer lifes­pans will be a re­al­i­ty soon­er than you think, Ju­ve­nes­cence promis­es as it clos­es $100M round

Earlier this year, an executive from Juvenescence-backed AgeX predicted the field of longevity will eventually “dwarf the dotcom boom.” Greg Bailey, the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO, certainly hopes so.

On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017. Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer $PFE and Amarin $AMRN.

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.