A roundup of some of the biggest recent stories coming out of China, including the commerce minister’s peace offering to international drug companies; CSPC Pharmaceutical Group’s partnership with Pfizer; Merck’s EUR 70 million manufacturing investment; the licensing agreement between Zhejiang Doer Biologics and BioNTech, and Moderna’s deal to develop and manufacture mRNA medicines in China.
China’s Commerce Minister told foreign pharmaceuticals firms they can expect “more development opportunities” during a roundtable on Wednesday, his ministry said, as drugmakers bemoan government procurement policies pricing them out of the market. Representatives from 12 companies, including AstraZeneca, Bayer, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, and Takeda, attended the meeting with Wang Wentao, the statement said.
Foreign pharmaceuticals firms have struggled to cement any inroads they have made into the world’s second-largest economy, with the government maintaining a drug procurement programme that forces them to slash their prices and refusing to approve the use of any foreign COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
Chinese drug maker CSPC Pharmaceutical Group said it signed a strategic partnership with Pfizer to launch a local brand of an oral COVID-19 treatment, in an attempt to improve the access for treatment in China.
The combination of Nirmatrelvir and Ritonavir sold under the brand name Paxlovid, an oral small molecule developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, is used to treat patients suffering from mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and who are at the risk of disease progression.
Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei province in North China, has been promoting innovation in pharmaceutical research and development to establish a robust biomedical industry. The biomedical sector in Shijiazhuang has emerged as a new driver of economic growth, with a total revenue of 85.5 billion yuan (USD 11.91 billion) in 2022.
The establishment of the Shijiazhuang International Biomedical Park is a milestone in the city’s pursuit of the industry’s development.
Merck invests € 70 M to expand reagent manufacturing in China (BioSpectrum Asia)
Merck is expanding production capacity for highly-purified reagents at its site in Nantong, China, a major transportation hub in the Yangtze River Delta region.
The approximate EUR 70 million investment will allow the large-scale manufacturing of high-purity reagents for quality control and testing for biopharma customers, increasing annual output by several thousand tons. Merck and the Nantong Economic and Technological Development Area (NETDA) signed the corresponding agreement in support of the expansion.
China’s Doer Biologics inks biotherapeutics agreement with BioNTech (BioSpectrum Asia)
Zhejiang Doer Biologics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical startup in China developing innovative biotherapeutics for metabolic diseases and cancers, has entered into a license agreement with Germany-headquartered BioNTech SE.
Under the terms of the agreement, Doer Bio will grant BioNTech a worldwide license to utilise one of Doer Bio’s innovative discoveries to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialise innovative biotherapeutics against an undisclosed target.
Bayer extends partnership with Peking University to foster pharma innovation in China (BioSpectrum Asia)
German firm Bayer and Peking University (PKU) in China will collaborate to foster the translation of basic pharmaceutical research into drug discovery and development, while accelerating scientific research on cutting-edge technologies across the pharmaceutical value chain.
The collaboration will focus on selected key areas of interests, such as oncology, cardiorenal, immunology, as well as cell and gene therapy. Under the agreement, Bayer will provide funding and support for joint research projects, as well as to scientists at PKU in recognition of their research excellence in life sciences and drug innovation.
FDA clears more chemotherapy imports from China’s Qilu amid shortage of key cancer meds (Fierce Pharma)
As a shortage of key chemotherapy drugs continues to upend cancer treatment across the country, the FDA has resorted to securing some of the meds from China.
After approving the importation of four lots back in May, the agency has now cleared 10 more lots of cisplatin for shipment to the U.S. from Chinese company Qilu Pharmaceuticals.
Canada’s Apotex will distribute the drugs, which are expected to arrive this week, a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma.
Moderna signed a deal Wednesday to develop and manufacture mRNA medicines in China, after other US and European Covid-19 drugmakers struggled to break into the market without a Chinese partner.
Under the agreement, the Cambridge, MA vaccine developer will produce medicines in China that “will be exclusively for the Chinese people” and “will not be exported,” according to an emailed statement from Moderna.