RA Capital, Hillhouse join $310M rush to back Everest's climb to commercial heights in China
Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.
But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.
Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.
The biotech might be best known for paying $65 million upfront to grab Asian rights to Immunomedics’ antibody-drug conjugate last April — a record for Chinese biotechs in-licensing Western drugs. But the other assets in their pipeline would ring equally, if not more, familiar to a US audience: Arena’s S1P receptor agonist etrasimod, United Therapeutics’ PAH drug ralinepag, Tetraphase antibiotic Xerava (eravacycline), among others.
The idea, CFO Ian Woo previously told Endpoints News, is to go for the crown jewels of their biotech partners — and not the unwanted, shelved products.
That approach requires earning the trust of partners, something Everest has honed after eight such deals.
Pioneered by the likes of Zai Lab and BeiGene, bridging the medical gap between the US and China has become a popular strategy for domestic biotechs. Everest positioned itself right up there with the leaders, including CStone and Innovent. The market’s big enough for almost everybody with the expertise to identify the right indications and pursue the optimal clinical development path, they contend.
“We are well-positioned to advance the clinical development of our robust therapeutics pipeline, which spans a number of important diseases, and we look forward to building a strong foundation on which we will grow our commercial business,” said Kerry Blanchard, the Eli Lilly vet who was appointed CEO earlier this year.
He is flanked in the C-suite by Ian Woo, president and CFO; and Wende Chen, chief commercial officer.
Two of the drugs Everest holds rights to have been approved in the US. Immunomedics’ breast cancer therapy Trodelvy was OK’d in April, triggering $60 million in milestone payment, and Everest was cleared for China trials that month. Around the same time, they nabbed approval for another, Xerava, in Singapore for complicated intra-abdominal infections.
Here’s a brief overview of the rest:
- etrasimod (Arena): oral modulator of the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1PR). In Phase III for ulcerative colitis
- taniborbactam (Venatorx): injectable broad-spectrum beta-lactamase inhibitor. In Phase III for complicated urinary tract infections
- ralinepag XR (United): extended release agonist of the IP receptor. In Phase III for pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Nefecon (Calliditas): oral formulation of budesonide. In Phase III for IgA nephropathy
- FGF401 (Novartis): reversible-covalent inhibitor of FGFR4. In Phase Ib/II for hepatocellular carcinoma
- SPR206 (Spero): polymyxin derivative designed to reduce the kidney toxicity that is seen clinically with polymyxin B and colistin