China

Fast-growing Shanghai Pharma to plant foot in San Diego, hunting deals in US and Europe

A multi-billion dollar Chinese pharma conglomerate, blessed with municipal government backing, is spreading its wings to the US and Europe with eyes on R&D, manufacturing and distribution.

The company, called Shanghai Pharma, is hunting for American corporations and research institutes it can partner with and acquire China rights from to bolster its distribution business (which recently got a boost with the $557 million acquisition of Cardinal Health’s China unit).

“We do not necessarily have to buy out US firms, we can first become their shareholder and business partner to explore synergies in market and product development… and we intend to keep the targets’ management team and operating systems after such potential acquisitions,” chairperson Zhou Jun told South China Morning Post.

As part of the company’s expansion plan, Shanghai Pharma plans to open a R&D center in San Diego as early as this year. The company has yet to respond to Endpoints request for more information about the site, but the new location is the latest in a string of Chinese investments into San Diego’s biotech hub. Shanghai Pharma joins Chinese CRO WuXi AppTec, which saw one of its development and manufacturing subsidiaries start operations in the city in 2016.  

Shanghai Pharma, whose research spans five areas including oncology and metabolic disease, has brought at least a dozen domestic firms under its umbrella over its 20-year history. Currently partnered with Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb in China, the firm first got its hands on overseas acquisition in late 2016, when it spent around $147 million for 60% of Australia’s Vitaco.

Now, it’s also scouting partners and targets in Israel and Europe (mainly Germany and France), SCMP reports, for off-patent drugs manufacturing and new drugs development.

And it’s been ramping up its manufacturing and distribution businesses, having completed a $400 million stock offering in Hong Kong for that purpose just days ago.       

There’s more. Shanghai Industrial Investment, which owns about a third of Shanghai Pharma, plans to set up a “very big” biotech fund with financial institutions and industry investors. The target would be mid- to advanced-stage drug development projects, which Shanghai Pharma is open to acquiring or spinning off.


Brittany Meiling contributed to this report. Image: Coronado Bridge, San Diego Shutterstock


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