Fierce Pharma Asia—AstraZeneca-Junshi PD-1 deal; Takeda’s $1.2B diabetes selloff, Ovid epilepsy collab pullout

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In a strangely structured deal, AstraZeneca has nationwide licensed Junshi Biosciences’ PD-1 inhibitor for only one indication in China. Takeda continued to sell noncore products in a $ 1.2 billion deal that focused on four diabetes drugs in Japan. The Japanese pharmaceutical company also took full responsibility for its epilepsy candidate soticlestat and ended a collaboration with Ovid Therapeutics. And more

1. AstraZeneca Licenses Junshi’s PD-1 in China under a bizarre commercialization deal

AstraZeneca has signed a special agreement for commercial rights to the PD-1 inhibitor Tuoyi (toripalimab) from Junshi Biosciences for only one indication – urothelial cancer – across China and for all indications in “non-core areas” of the country. AZ’s own PD-L1 drug Imfinzi was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer, and the UK pharmaceutical industry is known for its extensive marketing presence in regions outside of major cities.

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2. Takeda continues its divestment of $ 1.2 billion in diabetes drug sales to Japanese company Teijin

Takeda continues its sell-off with a new deal to sell four diabetes drugs in Japan to local company Teijin Pharma for JPY 133 billion (US $ 1.2 billion). The portfolio generated Takeda sales of JPY 30.8 billion (US $ 288 million) in fiscal 2019, again falling outside of the company’s five core businesses.

3. After Takeda bred epilepsy against Ovid, she brings it back to the herd

Takeda is paying $ 196 million upfront to regain full control of epilepsy candidate Soticlestat from a partnership with Ovid Therapeutics in 2017. The original deal prompted Takeda to get involved in biotechnology while Ovid took on clinical development with a commercialization division. The drug is now ready for Phase 3 trials at Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut in the second quarter, despite mixed Phase 2 results.

4. AbbVie sells a biologics facility to Pharmaron, fueling the Chinese company’s ambitions for cell and gene therapy

AbbVie will sell an old Allergan biologics facility in Liverpool, England, to Chinese CRO mogul Pharmaron for $ 118.7 million. The acquisition provides Pharmaron with commercial manufacturing capabilities for its cell and gene therapy platform and complements its recent acquisition of US non-clinical CRO player Absorption Systems.

5. WuXi AppTec buys the British company Oxgene for a value of 135 million USD for cell and gene therapy (Publication)

Another Chinese CRO giant has now also invested in cell and gene therapy. WuXi AppTec paid $ 135 million for Oxgene in the UK, which is the first facility in Europe for WuXi Advanced Therapies, a business unit dedicated to cell and gene therapy. According to WuXi, the Oxgene technologies for adenovirus and lentivirus vectors simplify the production of cell and gene therapies while reducing costs.

6. The Chinese startup Suzhou Medilink Therapeutics receives US $ 50 million for a hot research and development cancer field

Chinese startup Medilink Therapeutics has landed $ 50 million in a Series A to fund its pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates, an area that has recently become a hot target in cancer drug development. The money will also support the unique conjugated platform, the details of which are not yet known.

7. Sun is increasing its promotion of products with alternative formulations

Sun Pharma has launched several products in sprinkle formulations over the past several years to remove the tablet swallowing barrier for residents of long-term care facilities. Now the Indian drug maker has put this portfolio together for a marketing boost in the form of a new US website.

8. Inhibition of pancreatic cancer by exploiting a protein gap

Researchers led by China Medical University pointed to the protein interleukin-17 receptor B (IL-17RB) as a possible target for pancreatic cancer. They showed that a small piece of peptide placed on the flexible loop region of the protein could interfere with its cancer-promoting signal transmission. The peptide inhibited tumor metastasis and prolonged survival in mice.