Home health remedies Fierce Pharma Asia—GSK’s India Zantac plant sale; Takeda-BridGene drug discovery pact; Celltrion’s...

Fierce Pharma Asia—GSK’s India Zantac plant sale; Takeda-BridGene drug discovery pact; Celltrion’s COVID antibody


GlaxoSmithKline is selling its Zantac plant in India for a fraction of its original investment in the wake of a global recall. Takeda signed on chemoproteomics specialist BridGene to discover drugs against neurodegenerative diseases. Ahead of an official approval, the EMA backed the use of Celltrion’s monoclonal antibody for mild to moderate COVID-19 patients who’re at high risk of progression.

1. GlaxoSmithKline sells off $155M Zantac plant in India to Hetero Labs for a fraction of its cost

GlaxoSmithKline is selling a plant in Vemgal, India, that was making heartburn drug Zantac until potential cancer-causing contamination triggered a global recall. The plant opened in 2018 with a $155 million investment. Now, in a deal with local drugmaker Hetero Labs of India, GSK’s only getting $25 million in return.

2. Takeda taps BridGene to pursue hard-to-drug neurodegenerative disease targets

Takeda has partnered with BridGene Biosciences to discover small molecules against targets believed to be behind neurodegenerative diseases in a deal potentially worth more than $500 million. The California biotech will leverage its IMTAC chemoproteomics platform, which can identify small-molecule interactions with proteins in living cells.

3. EMA recommends Celltrion’s COVID-19 antibody for high-risk patients (press release)

The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee has recommended use of Celltrion’s antibody drug regdanvimab, or CT-P59, to treat COVID-19 patients who don’t require supplemental oxygen support but who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease. The recommendation allows each EU country to weigh the possible use of this drug before an official approval.

4. More expansion for Piramal as Indian CDMO gobbles up local peptide manufacturer for $105M

Indian CDMO Piramal Pharma shelled out $105 million in cash to acquire local firm Hemmo Pharmaceuticals. The buyout target develops and manufactures synthetic peptides as active pharmaceutical ingredients and has a manufacturing site certified by the U.S. FDA and other international regulatory bodies.

5. Daiichi exits combo vaccine pact with Sanofi after pertussis shot manufacturing glitches

Daiichi Sankyo has decided to end its Japanese marketing pact with Sanofi on Squarekids, a quadrivalent vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio, thanks to an unidentified manufacturing problem. The pair also terminated a development deal for VN-0105, which adds a fifth component for Haemophilus infection. Daiichi is paying Sanofi JPY15 billion ($135 million) to get out of the deal.

6. Otsuka, Lundbeck get real with CGI in first Abilify Maintena DTC campaign

Otsuka and Lundbeck have launched their first DTC campaign for the antipsychotic Abilify Maintena. The ad uses 3D computer-generated imagery and “stylized realism” approach to depict a bipolar I patient. “We wanted to pick an animation style that would resonate with our patients and certainly we didn’t want to offend or minimize the illness,” April Mitchell, Otsuka’s vice president of CNS marketing, said.

7. Nitto Denko lays out $226M to boost oligonucleotide production in a bustling RNA market

Antisense oligonucleotides are gaining traction to treat rare diseases and cancers, so Japanese manufacturer Nitto Denko is pouring JPY25 billion ($226 million) to beef up production. The cash will go to new buildings, a commercial drug substance manufacturing line and improved process and analytical development at its U.S. subsidiary Avecia’s home base in Milford, Massachusetts.

8. Astellas gene therapy repairs damage in neurodegenerative disease models

Scientists at the University of Cambridge showed in mice that a gene therapy that was the target of Astellas’ 2018 acquisition of British biotech Quethera might work in neurodegenerative diseases. The therapy expresses two therapeutic proteins to promote a cargo transport mechanism that’s crucial for the function and survival of nerve cells.

9. Eohilia maker Takeda targets doctors in a first-time eosinophilic esophagitis awareness push

Eosinophilic esophagitis, a rare inflammatory disorder of the esophagus, has no FDA-approved drug. But Takeda will likely change that by December thanks to an FDA priority review for TAK-721, a budesonide oral suspension. To prepare for that launch, Takeda is rolling out a disease awareness campaign, “See EoE,” aimed at physicians.

10. CDMO Raybow adding 74 jobs in the hills of North Carolina at its U.S. headquarters

Chinese CDMO Raybow Pharmaceutical will invest $15.8 million and add 74 jobs at its North American headquarters in Brevard, North Carolina. Raybow gained the North Carolina operation through the acquisition of PharmAgra. The move will quadruple its local workforce and increase its capacity there by tenfold.

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