Over 30 Chinese drugmakers to appear at J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference
Elise Mak ·01/10/2022
Feature


A record-high number of Chinese biotech players will attend the 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference starting today. Here’s an overview of what to watch out for.


Source: J.P. Morgan


This year, 33 mainland Chinese companies, ranging from drugmakers to CROs, will be addressing to investors and analysts at biotech's biggest annual conference from Jan. 10 to Jan. 13, up from 22 last year.


Biotech companies from mainland China have been in the spotlight over the past two years, as they rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines, continue to make record-breaking deals, debut on exchanges in Hong Kong and the U.S., and make progress in emerging areas like cell and gene therapy.


Here are the three types of companies to watch out for this year.


Vaccine developers


Vaccine developers including Sinovac Biotech, Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products and CanSino Biologics on day one, Clover Health on day two and Fosun Pharma on day three will be closely watched.


These companies have been making headlines with their COVID-19 vaccines over the past year and are expected to give updates on their vaccine development this week. Sinovac is believed to have generated over ¥50 billion ($7.7 billion) from its CoronaVac in the first half of 2021, while Fosun is still waiting for the NMPA’s green light for its mRNA vaccine.


Innovative drugmakers


There are also quite a few innovative drugmakers to keep an eye on this year.

Appearing on the first day are Zai Lab, Akeso, RemeGen, Mingmed Biotech, Ascentage Pharma, Abbisko Therapeutics, Hygeia Healthcare and Antengene.


BeiGene, Legend Biotech, Elpiscience Biopharma, Junshi Biosciences, Reistone, Biotheus, Innovent Biologics, Bioduro Sundia, I-Mab will show up the following day. Up next will be Lupeng Bio, Kintor, Belief Biomed and Grand Pharma on day three.


Some of these players have shocked the industry with record-breaking deals in recent years. RemeGen licensed out its ADC drug disitamab vedotin to Seagen in a $2.6 billion deal, BeiGene closed a $2.8 billion deal with Novartis to hand out rights to its TIGIT inhibitor, and I-Mab signed a $2 billion pact with AbbVie to license out anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody, lemzoparlimab.


Eyes will be on biotech heavyweights such as BeiGene, Zai Lab, Legend Biotech and I-Mab to take a glimpse at their R&D updates and direction. BeiGene recently opened an innovation center in southern China to incubate startups for degenerative diseases, while Legend eagerly awaits the FDA’s nod for its BCMA-directed CAR-T therapy.


Traditional pharma companies such as Hengrui Pharma and Sino Biopharm, presenting on the first and second day, respectively, are struggling to transform themselves into innovative drugmakers. Hengrui is known for its extensive pipeline and the conference will be a great opportunity to hear what it is up to.


Newcomers


Among the innovative drugmakers joining the conference this year, some are newcomers ready to extend their reach beyond China.


Biotheus has two bispecific antibodies in development. Reistone has initiated a phase III trial of a JAK1 inhibitor. Kintor has made noise with its COVID-19 drug hopeful proxalutamide. Regor just entered into a multi-year pact to develop therapies for metabolic disorders with Eli Lilly. Belief Biomed is working on the first intravenous infusion gene therapy for rare diseases in China.


Tony Ren, head of J.P. Morgan’s Greater China healthcare research, told PharmaDJ in a previous interview that the quality of the Chinese companies has increased significantly, and they may even start global acquisition.


“The science continues to improve and companies are continuing to push the boundary of the quality of their products. Regulatory standards are also improving,” he said of the emerging biotech ecosystem in China.


“Foreign biopharmaceutical companies will have better partners in China to work with. Foreign investors will also have better and more investable companies. Some of these companies will be able to license a drug out to a global partner, which will be taken as a cue for the quality of their drugs,” he added.

Keywords: J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference 33 mainland Chinese companies drugmakers CROs
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