Novartis $1 billion China initiative with two aims: the company will dramatically increase its investment in its China R&D facility, and it will seek to make China one its top three markets worldwide. The investment will increase the size of the companyâ€™s Shanghai R&D centre from its current employee count of 160 to over 1,000 eventually. At that size, China will rank with Novartisâ€™ R&D facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Only the company home research facility in Basel, Switzerland will be larger.
Novartis also announced it would spend $250 million to expand its global technical centre in Changshu, and pay $125 million to buy a 85% stake in a privately held China vaccine company, Zhejiang Tianyuan . Novartisâ€™ interest in vaccines follows a worldwide trend. Zhejiang Tianyuanâ€™s revenues doubled from 2006 to 2008, when they reached $25 million. Novartis is paying five times last-yearâ€™s revenues, showing that China vaccine companies are, at the moment, highly desirable.
Roche opened a new $500 million biologics manufacturing facility in Singapore in the Tuas Biomedical Park. The site contains two buildings, one dedicated to producing Lucentis, a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, while the other will make Avastin, a targeted cancer therapy. Both projects were initiated by Genentech, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche.
Microbix of Canada signed a joint venture agreement with the Hunan Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a state-owned enterprise, to construct a large $200 million facility dedicated to flu vaccine production. Hunan will contribute both land and early funding. The facility will be Asia\'s largest flu plant and the third largest vaccine facility in the world. Microbix and Hunan Biopharma will each own 50% of the JV. Microbix will contribute its patented technology, called Virusmaxâ„˘, which doubles the production of flu vaccine.
Biostar Pharmaceuticals (BSPM.OB) completed a private placement that raised $3.6 million in new capital. Biostar will use the proceeds to complete its new raw materials processing facility. By taking its raw material production in-house, Biostar will lower costs and gain control over product quality. Biostar plans to sell excess raw materials to other pharmaceutical companies in the Shaanxi province.
Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Co. agreed to invest in Biomaster Inc., a Japanese company focused on the use of adipose-based stem cells for plastic surgeries. Beike and two investment companies will own a â€śsignificantâ€ť share of Biomaster, which will employ the new capital to position itself for an IPO. At the same time, Beike will gain access to Biomasterâ€™s technology, which Beike will use in its own clinics in China, Southeast Asia and South America.
NeoStem, closed its acquisition of China Biopharmaceuticals Holdings. China Biopharmas sole asset is a 51% stake in Suzhou Erye Pharmaceutical Co., a 50-year old pharmaceutical company that expects to generate $60 million in revenue and net income of $12 million in 2009. NeoStem is a stem cell storage company based in the US, Suzhou Erye Pharma boasts a portfolio of 100 products on seven cGMP lines that it markets in China. RimAsia Capital Partners, LP will own a substantial portion of the new company.
ScinoPharm, an API manufacturer based in Taiwan, began construction of a new China manufacturing facility in Changshu, Jiangsu province. The facility will include an R&D centre and production plants that are fully compliant with US and international GMP standards. The facility, which is expected to be operational in 2011, will initially produce GMP grade pharmaceutical intermediates. It will be equipped to manufacture APIs at a later date.
Hutchison MediPharma made two significant announcements about its innovative drug candidates. The first concerned the companyâ€™s lead compound, HMPL-004, which met all endpoints in a Phase IIb clinical trial in patients with mild-to-moderate active Ulcerative Colitis. Last summer, the company announced that early data showed HMPL-004 was effective in another Phase II trial, this one conducted in patients with Crohnâ€™s disease. HMPL-004 is a proprietary oral compound that is extracted from a China herb and retards inflammation through a novel mechanism.
The second MediPharma announcement concerns HMPL-001, a proprietary anti-inflammatory drug candidate that began its first-in-human Phase I clinical trial. HMPL-011 is a new single-chemical entity with a novel mechanism of action. It is a cytokine modulator being developed as an oral therapy for auto-immune diseases. The first subjects were dosed on 28 October in Australia, where the trial is being conducted.
And finally, Sinovac Biotech will move the home for its stock listing from the NYSE Amex to the NASDAQ Global Market. The reason given for the change was â€śgreater liquidity.â€ť Target day for the transfer is November 16. Although most NASDAQ companies use a four-letter symbol, Sinovac will be allowed to keep its current three-letter identifier, SVA, so the new listing will not have much effect on most investors.