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BeiGene CEO John Oyler at an Endpoints News/PharmCube event in Shanghai, October 2018 (Credit: Endpoints News)

Am­gen takes a $2.7B stake in BeiGene, gain­ing a promi­nent al­ly in Chi­na to help seize a lead­ing role in can­cer drug com­mer­cial­iza­tion and de­vel­op­ment

Amgen has found both a commercial partner to help build up its cancer drug revenue in China, as well as a fast growing R&D partner for the development of its experimental oncology pipeline — including the closely-watched KRAS G12C drug AMG 510. And they’re paying top dollar to close the deal today.

The big winner is BeiGene $BGNE, a Chinese manufacturer and developer who’s been hard at it growing their portfolio under CEO John Oyler. Oyler scored a deal that delivers $2.7 billion to BeiGene in exchange for 20.5% of the company — equity that Amgen is paying a significant premium on at $174.85 per share. And Oyler will invest up to $1.25 billion from his end to back work on a pipeline of roughly 20 more cancer drugs in development from Amgen.

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Photo: Amber Tong, Endpoints News

In a bid to get to Chi­nese pa­tients faster, Shang­hai's I-Mab plans $100M Nas­daq IPO

Aiming to be the next Chinese company to list on Nasdaq after Zai Lab’s debut two years ago, the Shanghai drug developer I-Mab is gunning for a $100 million IPO.

The company — which has raised more than $400 million in the last three years — has a shrewd strategy for biologic development: it first conducts its proof-of-concept trials in the United States and works towards getting FDA clearance for in-human studies.  The data generated are then used to advance clinical development in China. Eventually, after the experimental drug has been clinically validated in the United States, the company retains Chinese rights for further development and commercialization — while retaining the option to out-license globally.

As­cen­t­age soars dur­ing its first day on the Hong Kong ex­change, fol­low­ing $53M de­but

Ascentage Pharma’s IPO bounty might have been modest compared to previous public debuts on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but it’s proving popular among investors on its first trading day.

The Suzhou-based biotech soared as much as 57% early Monday after completing a $53 million raise on Friday, Bloomberg noted. The launch price of HK$34.2 (around $4.36) fell in the middle of the range, translating to a market cap of almost $890 million. Ascentage’s stock ended the day at HK$37.6.

Chi­na's Foun­tain Med­ical scores $62M as de­mand for CRO ser­vices surges

Circa 2016, China secured its status as the second-biggest market for prescription drugs. The soaring demand for medicines has fueled the return of key scientific talent, the appetite for spending on drug research and development, while China’s cost advantage has lured multinational pharmaceutical makers to set up R&D shops in the region and stimulated the domestic CRO industry. In 2007, a former Quintiles (now IQVIA) executive set up his own CRO in China — Fountain Medical Development Limited (FMD) — and on Friday, the company unveiled a $62 million Series D round of financing.

Mer­ck KGaA wants to get in ear­ly on Chi­nese in­no­va­tion — so it's set­ting up a seed fund there

Merck KGaA is carving out a small — but emblematic — portion of its venture arm to nurture new Chinese startups while it cuts the ribbon on an innovation hub in Shanghai.

The €13 million (RMB100 million) seed fund falls within the scope of M Ventures’ €300 million mandate, according to the German drugmaker, and would be jointly managed by that team and the innovation hub. Startups that fall into the healthcare, life science, performance materials and “new businesses” buckets can expect to receive investments between €500,000 and €1 million designed to bring them over to a value inflection point within two years.

Fol­low­ing top-lev­el C-suite de­par­tures, As­cle­tis raids No­var­tis for R&D ex­ec

Ascletis has wooed another top pharma exec from the US to China as it gets ready to show that its R&D team has what it takes to come up with some first-in-class drugs.

In taking up the CSO role Handan He is leaving behind a 22-year stint at Novartis, where her last title was global head of computational, biopharmaceutics and translational PK/PD.

Her arrival marks another big get for CEO Jinzi Wu, who earlier this year recruited Merck’s top drug developer in China as Ascletis’ CMO. But health and family concerns cut Zhengqing Li’s tenure short, forcing him to depart after only five months. Days ago CFO Lindi Tan also handed in her papers.

Image: Shutterstock

San Diego cou­ple charged with steal­ing trade se­crets, open­ing Chi­nese biotech as DOJ crack­down con­tin­ues

A San Diego couple has been charged with stealing trade secrets from a US hospital and opening a business based off those secrets in China as the controversial industry-wide crackdown on alleged corporate espionage continues. On the same day, the Department of Justice announced they had arrested Beijing representative Zhongsan Liu for allegedly trying to obtain research visas for government recruiters.

Li Chen, 46, and her husband Yu Zhou, 49, were accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to, attempting and successfully stealing secrets related to exosome research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where they worked for 10 years.

Liu, head of the China Association for International Exchange of Personnel (CAIEP-NY), is accused of conspiring to obtain research scholar visas for persons whose purpose was to recruit US experts to China.

The charges follow a string of investigations, prosecutions and firings across the biotech and pharmaceutical industry over the past two years. US officials and some US pharma executives have argued the charges have been warranted and necessary, with FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr calling Liu’s purported actions part of a broader trend.

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Can­cer drugs among US goods spared from tar­iffs as Chi­na is­sues first ex­emp­tions in trade war

In its first move to spare certain US imports from the trade war, China has offered some relief to cancer drugmakers.

Twelve drugs — mostly chemotherapy agents — featured on the list of products to be exempted from retaliatory tariffs until September 2020. They also belong to the subgroup where tariffs already collected will be returned.

AstraZeneca’s EGFR inhibitor Iressa appears to be the only non-chemo drug in the group. Here’s the list, translated from the Ministry of Finance’s original announcement:
decitabine, floxuridine, cyclophosphamide, gefitinib, capecitabine, raltitrexed, fludarabine, tegafur, cytarabine hydrochloride, gemcitabine hydrochloride, icotinib hydrochloride, ifosfamide
Officials told the state-owned People Daily that there were three main reasons behind the exemptions on these 16 classes of products — including fish feed and lubricants — which marks the first time the Chinese government has done so since the trade war started. It’s been difficult to find alternate sources for these goods, and tariffs have been detrimental to both individual companies and the related industries.

How about a $477M biotech IPO amid Hong Kong protests? Hen­lius will find out

A third month of protests in Hong Kong is not stopping Shanghai Henlius Biotech’s push to get listed on its stock exchange.

The $477 million IPO bid marks the first big test for HKEX’s nascent biotech corner since the city became engulfed in political turmoil over a now withdrawn extradition bill and subsequent police brutality. Bloomberg has previously reported that the company was eyeing as much as $600 million.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin (File photo)

Hong Kong strife holds up al­most $100M of BioN­Tech's Se­ries B haul

Late on Monday, it was revealed that German cancer drug developer BioNTech is eyeing a $100 million public listing in the United States, two months after the cancer-focused company unveiled a herculean $325 million in an upsized round of financing.

In the IPO filing, however, the Mainz-based drug developer revealed that shares worth about $97 million that were expected to be bought by an undisclosed Hong Kong-based investor have been delayed, in part due to the political unrest in Hong Kong and the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China.