RA joins global syndicate to back a $98M round for CANbridge
A Beijing-based rare disease and oncology player has raised $98 million to help fund the expansion of its pipeline as well as a commercial portfolio.
CANbridge put out word Tuesday that the global private equity player General Atlantic joined forces with Chinese CRO Wuxi AppTec to lead the Series D, with both ready to chip in an extra $10 million each under the right conditions. The syndicate includes RA Capital Management, Hudson Bay Capital Management, YuanMing Prudence Fund and Tigermed.
The new infusion sets CANBridge up for an IPO in a year or two, according to CFO Glenn Hassan.
A specialist in rare genetic diseases, CANbridge has been collaborating with WuXi Biologics, a sister company of the CRO, on discovering and developing new drugs for its target indications.
Like a number of top China drug players, CANbridge is getting started with some existing meds in-licensed for the Asian market while following up with some more original work. Its drug Hunterase is an enzyme replacement therapy under review now by Chinese regulatory authorities. And the biotech has high hopes for Nerlynx, the breast cancer drug from Puma.
CANbridge has about 60 staffers on the ground in China, about half of whom support the commercial organization, CEO James Xue told Endpoints News from their Cambridge, MA office.
“We are definitely building what I would say as one of the most robust commercial platform for rare disease in the Greater China region that would really enable us to do what we call high-touch launch and operations of rare disease products,” he said.
Having repositioned the company to focus on rare disease rather than just oncology, Xue — the former general manager of Genzyme — said the Chinese market is warming up to rare disease drugs. Take the uptake of Cerezyme, which launched in China in 2008 under his watch. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 that enzyme replacement therapy received municipal reimbursement from Shanghai; but in the following years coverage has expanded into about 10 provinces and cities, with up to 100% coverage.
Awareness is also clearly spreading from the patient and physician level to the policymakers, with rare disease language and lists officially written into law. And the aggressive price negotiations that government officials have been doing for the National Reimbursement Drug List is a sign that they are making room for diseases currently completely uncovered, he added.
“Those are the elements or the moving parts gradually in place that would allow us to hope for and also plan for rare disease market in a way that its reimbursed market is around the corner,” he said.
Social image: James Xue, CANbridge CEO