The latest news from Chinese pharma, including an examination of the new national reimbursement drug list (NRDL), the therapies that have and have not made it onto the list, and the significant price cuts that have been agreed. Also included are the World Health Organization (WHO)’s plea to Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developers to share their patents with the developing world, China’s renewed focus on monoclonal antibodies, and a new Chinese bioprocessing site for CDMO Fujifilm.


Biogen’s Spinraza, Fosun Kite’s Yescarta and a controversial Alzheimer’s drug: All you need to know about China’s new state coverage (Fierce Pharma)

It’s that time of year again when biopharma companies cut the price of their drugs to win national coverage in China.

Sixty-seven novel therapies entered China’s national reimbursement drug list (NRDL) for the first time and offered an average 61.7% discount through negotiations with the government, the country’s National Healthcare Security Administration unveiled (Chinese) Friday.

Biogen’s spinal muscular atrophy therapy Spinraza and Pfizer’s heart drug Vyndamax are among pricey rare disease drugs that are included for coverage starting next year. By comparison, Fosun Kite’s newly approved CAR-T therapy Yescarta as well as PD-1/L1 inhibitors by Merck & Co., Bristol Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca all failed to secure a place on the updated list.


Coronavirus: WHO appeals to Chinese pharmaceutical firms to share vaccine patents (SCMP)

The World Health Organization is in contact with two major Chinese vaccine developers in the hope they will share the patents for their Covid-19 jabs.

The WHO has repeatedly called for sharing Covid-19 vaccine patents to increase supplies and ensure equitable access for developing countries.

But so far it has had the cold shoulder from pharmaceutical giants – including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca – even though it has set up a mRNA technology transfer hub in Africa, expecting that would ease the sharing of advanced vaccine technology.


Vivo Capital, Bain, Primavera pour $200M into virtually unknown targeted oncology play out of China (Endpoints News)

Hongbo Lu was a board member at CrownBio, a preclinical oncology CRO, when a local company — so local it didn’t even have an English name — licensed a c-Met inhibitor from them. Then they didn’t think much about it.

Over the next eight years though, Lu, a partner at Vivo Capital, watched the biotech bootstrap itself, building a whole pipeline and discovery capabilities around the anchoring asset.

Impressed by what they saw, Vivo Capital has now teamed up with Bain Capital and Primavera to infuse $200 million into the company — which actually has been operating under two separate entities managed by the same team. The Series A will buy out the angel investors who have been funding the work, and put all the programs under the same umbrella.

They’re calling it Avistone Pharmaceuticals.


China Puts Renewed Focus on Monoclonal Antibodies in COVID-19 Fight (BioSpace)

Amidst recent news that Pfizer is suing a former employee for stealing COVID-19 vaccine secrets come reports that researchers in China are busy developing several treatments, combining vaccines and drugs for COVID-19, and also working on monoclonal antibody treatments.

Pfizer employed Chun Xiao Li in 2006 as an associate director of statistics in its global product development group based in China. In 2016, Ms. Li transferred to Pfizer’s facility in La Jolla, California. The lawsuit focuses on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and its avelumab and elranatamab monoclonal antibodies.


New Fujifilm site will cater to cell culture media market demands in China (Biopharma Reporter)

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific, Inc, is to build a new bioprocessing center in China, with the goal of ensuring local cell culture media optimization support for vaccines, advanced therapies, and biotherapeutic drug development.