Week In Review: CANbridge Raises $98 Million For In-licensed Orphan Disease And Targeted Cancer Candidates

Everest Medicines, a Shanghai in-licensing company, has appointed Kerry Blanchard, MD, PhD, as CEO. Dr. Blanchard is a long-term China biopharma executive with ten years of experience leading China drug development programs at Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and Innovent (HK: 1801) (see story). His hiring illustrates that Everest remains committed to its China-centric business plan, despite the recent COVID-19 disruption. In a statement, Dr. Blanchard said, “China’s importance to global pharmaceutical development continues to rise and I will work with the Board to explore strategic opportunities outside of our traditional focus of licensing regional rights to late-stage programs.”

Trials and Approvals

Zhejiang Hisun Pharma (SHA: 600267) reported that favilavir, a generic anti-viral, has been approved by China's NMPA to treat COVID-19, the first approved treatment for the viral outbreak (see story). According to unofficial reports, fapilavir showed efficacy with only minor side effects in an ongoing 70-patient clinical trial in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The size of the trial and its "ongoing" nature imply that the approval will require further proof before it becomes permanent. Favilavir is a generic version of Fapilavir, an anti-catarrhal drug that clears mucous from the mucous membranes of the airway.

Ascletis Pharma (HK:1672) of Hangzhou reported that Zhejiang Province authorities approved a trial of ritonavir in patients with COVID-19 (see story). Ritonavir is a generic version of AbbVie’s Norvir, an oral antiretroviral that has been in use for over 20 years to treat HIV/AIDS. The study is being run jointly by Ascletis and the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine. According to Ascletis, it is currently conducting four clinical trials that combine ritonavir and ASC09, a protease inhibitor that is also being tested as an HIV treatment.

Harbour BioMed, a Suzhou-Shanghai biopharma, reported that HBM916, a fully human anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody aimed at autoimmune disorders, showed an "excellent" safety profile in a Hong Kong Phase I study (see story). The candidate also reduced IgC levels, its target, though HBM did not release specific data. HBM will begin clinical trials of HBM916 that enroll patients with several autoimmune diseases, including adult immune thrombocytopenia, myasthenia gravis, Grave’s ophthalmopathy and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. In 2017, HBM acquired Greater Chins rights for two biologic drugs, including HBM916, from Korea's HanAll Biopharma (KS: 009420) in an $81 million deal.

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