MedImmune Partners with Wuxi AppTec

AstraZeneca have reinforced their interest in China by entering into a joint venture between their biotechnology arm MedImmune, and Chinese firm WuXi AppTec, which seeks to quicken the development of a new medicine for inflammatory conditions in the country.

Under the joint venture, in which the two organisations will have equal ownership, MedImmune’s experimental, fully-human monoclonal antibody MEDI-5117 will be developed for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

MedImmune will offer technical and development knowledge, while WuXi AppTec will provide local regulatory, manufacturing, pre-clinical and clinical trial support.

The conditions of the partnership have given AstraZeneca’s MedImmune the opportunity to take up full rights to commercialise MEDI5117, otherwise the joint venture will have the right to do so.

WuXi AppTec will obtain revenue founded on services delivered to the partnership, while MedImmune will have various milestone payments as the program advances, the companies announced.

The decision should help quicken the drug’s path to market in China, if development is successful, as the Chinese government demands local manufacture of medicines that have not yet received approval elsewhere in the world.

According to the head of research at MedImmune, Bahija Jallal, working alongside Wuxi AppTec could accelerate a launch in the country by four to six years earlier than if the organisation decided to follow the more traditional route of applying for import licence following approval from other markets.

The Chinese government’s focus on healthcare reform, in addition to its investment in improving healthcare infrastructure and growing medical insurance coverage, are anticipated to continue to drive growth and demand for quality medicines over the long term. China also continues to grow its biomedical R&D investment, driven by sustained GDP growth. The Chinese pharmaceutical market increased from $10 billion in 2004 to $41 billion in 2010 and, according to IMS Health, is estimated to grow to in excess of $100 billion by 2014.

The announcement supports AstraZeneca’s on-going pledge to collaborate across Asia in ways that capitalise on the scientific and local knowledge of their partners and tap into the region’s strong history of innovation.

Bahija Jallal concluded that the “strategic partnership will enable us to establish a leadership presence in developing novel biologics in China, complementing AstraZeneca’s investment in this important emerging market.”


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