China is making some advances in approving and reimbursing drugs to treat or prevent rare diseases. More than 60 rare disease drugs have been approved for marketing in China, with more than 40 of those included in the national medical insurance system, according to figures released at a national conference on rare diseases held in Beijing Dec. 18.
Novartis AG has forged even stronger links with Beigene Ltd., taking an option on the latter’s late-stage TIGIT inhibitor cancer immunotherapy ociperlimab in a deal worth up to $1 billion. Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis will pay the Beijing-based pharma $300 million up front in the option, collaboration and license agreement plus up to $700 million if it exercises its option before late 2023.
An international collaborative study led by Chinese researchers at Wuhan University is the first to have discovered a new small molecule, termed IMA-1, and shown it to be safe and effective for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in mouse and macaque models.
Beigene Ltd.’s listing on the Shanghai STAR Market netted ¥22 million ($3.4 billion) as the company became making it the first biotech firm to be listed on Nasdaq, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and the Shanghai STAR Market. But Shanghai shares, initially priced at ¥192.6 each, fizzled quickly, plunging over 16.4% by market close to ¥160.98.
With the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) imposing stricter regulatory requirements on listing companies, more Chinese companies are likely to decide to list on stock exchanges closer to home.
Avistone Biotechnology Co. Ltd. raised more than $200 million to support its oncology drug development and the acquisition Pearl Biotechnology Co. Ltd. with the aim of creating a “fully-integrated” targeted oncology platform. Vivo Capital LLC led the financing, with participation from Bain Capital LP. and Primavera Capital Group.
Canbridge Pharmaceuticals Inc. has raised HK$604 million ($77.4 million) with a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange, selling about 56.3 million shares (1228.HK) at HK$12.18 per share. The shares fell to HK$8.90 at the close of trading Dec. 10. Almost half the funds will support advancement of Canbridge’s lead candidate, CAN-008, a glycosylated CD95-Fc fusion protein in phase II testing for glioblastoma, while another quarter will support other major pipeline programs.
Cansino Biologics Inc. has entered a development and commercial supply partnership with Aerogen Ltd. for an inhalable version of its COVID-19 vaccine, Convidecia, also known as Ad5-nCoV. Cansino will combine Convidecia with Aerogen’s vibrating mesh aerosol drug delivery technology to produce a consistent droplet size for optimal lung deposition.