China unveiled new inclusions in its national reimbursement drug list, featuring novel therapies from Biogen, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and more. Partners Biocon and Viatris are reportedly considering combining their biosimilar operations. A Chinese oncology biotech just secured a handsome $200 million series A to merge with a fellow oncology company and advance its pipeline. And more.
1. Biogen’s Spinraza, Fosun-Kite’s Yescarta and a controversial Alzheimer’s drug
Sixty-seven novel therapies offered an average 61.7% discount to get on China’s national reimbursement drug list. Biogen’s spinal muscular atrophy therapy, Spinraza, became the first high-value rare disease drug included in the state insurance program. Fosun-Kite’s one-time CAR-T therapy, with a reported sticker price of 1.2 million yuan ($188,000), didn’t get a deal, and neither did any of the foreign-made PD-1/L1 inhibitors.
2. Another Samsung Bioepis? Biocon, Viatris mull merging biosimilar businesses
Biocon and Viatris are in advanced talks to combine their biosimilar businesses, Indian financial news site Moneycontrol reported, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The two firms are already collaborating on several biosimilar projects including the recent launch of Semglee, which references Sanofi’s insulin Lantus, as the first interchangeable biosimilar in the U.S.
3. Avistone nabs $200M cancer platform funding drive from leading VCs as it combines with Pearl Biotech
Avistone Pharmaceuticals raised $200 million in a series A round led by Vivo Capital. The money will fund the combination of the Chinese startup with fellow oncology player Pearl Biotechnology. The initial focus of the company is on lung cancer, with a c-Met inhibitor as its lead drug candidate. The cash will also go toward the development of other existing programs and expanding its pipeline.
4. BeyondSpring lurches down as FDA rejects plinabulin, raising questions about lung cancer prospects
The FDA rejected BeyondSpring’s application for plinabulin in chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. The agency suggests the Sino-American biotech run another well-controlled trial to confirm the effect seen in the first trial. The company recently reported a positive readout for plinabulin in a phase 3 non-small cell lung cancer trial, though analysts at Jefferies now “see more uncertainty” for that indication.
5. Brii gets China go-ahead for COVID-19 antibody therapy, awaits FDA decision (release)
Brii Biosciences’ COVID antibody combo of BRII-916 and BRII-198, also known as amubarvimab and romlusevimab, has won approval in China to treat patients with mild and normal type of COVID. The drug reduced hospitalization or death by 80% over placebo in the NIH-run ACTIV-2 phase 3 trial. The company is also seeking FDA emergency use authorization.
6. Shanghai Pharma, Syntegon to build lab in China to advance continuous manufacturing tech
Shanghai Pharma has signed on Syntegon Technology to build a lab for continuous manufacturing in China. Details of the size of the deal or the facility weren’t disclosed. The tie-up follows a similar deal Syntegon signed with Bayer to help with continuous manufacturing process for oral solid drugs.