“Chinese Drug Developer Innovent Raises $260 Million” --Company aims to expand access to biological medicines in China
Dow Jones VentureWire
By: Brian Gormley
November 29, 2016
Innovent Biologics Inc. has raised $260 million to drive its first antibody drug onto the Chinese market and tap into demand for biological therapies there.
Investors in the Series D round included China Life, Hillhouse Capital, Legend Capital, Milestone, SDIC Fund Management Co., Ping An Trust, Tai Kang and Temasek. Innovent has raised $410 million since forming in August 2011. Cofounder and Chief Executive Michael Yu said this was an up round but declined to discuss Innovent’s valuation.
Health-care venture investment has surged in China, where the population is largely covered by health insurance. The $1.43 billion invested in health care in mainland China through three quarters is more than $1.41 billion deployed in all of 2015, according to market tracker Dow Jones VentureSource. U.S. medical investors with significant stakes in China include Vivo Capital and OrbiMed Advisors.
Antibodies and other biological medications are increasingly important treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases and other conditions. Top-selling products include AbbVie Inc.’s Humira, an autoimmune disease therapy, and Rituxan, a treatment for cancer and other diseases sold by Biogen Inc. and Genentech Inc. Despite widespread medical insurance, the high cost of biologics still limits access to them in China, according to Dr. Yu.
Innovent, which has 12 products in development makes novel and biosimilar drugs for cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular conditions and vision disorders. Biosimilars are lower-cost, near-copies of the original branded biological medicine. Innovent’s portfolio includes biosimilar versions of Rituxan and Humira.
The company, based outside Shanghai, expects to seek regulatory approval in China for its first biosimilar in 2018. Its initial approved drug could be the Rituxan or the Humira biosimilar. Innovent also plans to expand manufacturing capacity so it will be able to lower the cost of goods and sell products for a lower price.
Competition comes from corporations like Amgen Inc. and Pfizer Inc. that have moved into China. As a smaller operation, Innovent has lower overhead, Dr. Yu said. Innovent has also been striking deals with U.S. companies.