Shanghai-based Genor Biopharma, which made a successful debut on Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday, is looking to offer cheaper treatments for breast cancer – the most common among all cancers in Chinese women.
“We aim to be a leading breast cancer therapies provider among domestic firms in three to five years,” chief executive officer Guo Feng told the Post. “We are building a sales team for multiple drug candidates in this category, and our superior manufacturing capabilities mean we can a make good profit even in a competitive market.”
Some 367,900 new breast cancer cases were recorded in 2018 in China, nearly a fifth of all female cancer incidences in the nation, according to the World Health Organization.
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Genor has completed phase three clinical trial on coprelotamab, an in-house discovered antibody vying to be the first among three domestically developed drug candidates to win approval to be used in China on late-stage breast cancer patients with HER2+ diagnosis. It expects to apply to Chinese regulators for marketing approval before the year-end.
The candidate will take on Swiss rival Roche’s Herceptin and Perjeta that are currently used in combination with chemotherapy, as well as GSK’s Lapatinib to treat the same type of breast cancer in China.
Herceptin was included in China’s national health insurance coverage in 2017 after a 69 per cent price cut, while Lapatinib was included following a 42 per cent reduction. Herceptin, the “gold standard” for this type of cancer for patients who had no previous treatment, saw sales volume jump eight-fold in 2019.
“Even though Herceptin’s sales are expected to exceed 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) this year from 6 billion yuan last year, there are still many unmet needs among China’s huge population of HER2+ patients,” he said. “We are in a good position to fill the gap.”
Several so-called “biosimilar” drugs like Herceptin being developed by other Chinese firms are expected to be launched “in the near future”, Genor said in its listing prospectus. Five other novel drugs in the same category are also under phase three clinical trials.
Asked if Genor will have to offer at a substantial discount for its drugs to be included in the insurance list to win market share, Guo said it will be driven by benefits to patients and the national health insurer’s considerations on maximising national health care benefits.
Genor has also licensed the right to develop the Asia-Pacific market – excluding Japan – for another breast cancer drug from North Carolina-based G1 Therapeutics. The drug candidate, lerociclib, is potentially among the first two inhibitor drugs likely to be launched in China, with global sales estimated at US$8.8 billion a year, Genor said.
Genor shares opened at HK$29.20 on their debut on Wednesday, a 21.7 per cent jump over its offer price of HK$24. The firm raised HK$2.5 billion in its initial stock offering, where its institutional tranche was oversubscribed by 33 times, and the retail portion by 1,247 times.
Meanwhile, Genor has applied to Chinese regulators for approval to market an antibody drug for peripheral T cell lymphoma, with a plan to expand its application to various solid tumours.
Some 22,600 new cases this type of aggressive blood cancer were recorded in China last year. Genor aims to launch the drug in the second half of next year.
“Within a week after our application was accepted, our drug won priority review designation, and 20 working days after that we got appointments for inspection of our clinical trial and production facilities,” Guo said.
Some 38.4 per cent of 102 patients in a clinical trial saw their tumours shrink, with a median duration of 7.1 months. The current standard treatment is chemotherapy.
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