Dragon Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTCBB :DRUG.OB) announces that it has acquired the remaining 25% of equity interest in Nanjing Huaxin Bio-pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Huaxin”), an integrated biotech company with a GMP-certified production facility located in Nanjing, China. Combined with the 75% interest acquired in 1999, Dragon now owns 100% of Huaxin. The acquisition reaffirms Dragon’s current commitment to Huaxin and will allow Dragon to meet the growing demand for its commercially available therapeutic protein, Epoetin-Alfa (EPO), and expedite the development of other pipeline products. Dragon acquired the remaining 25% interest in Huaxin for US $1.4 million.
Dragon also reports the progress of other products under development including thrombopoietin (TPO), granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), human insulin, slow-release EPO and Hepatitis B vaccine.
TPO is a protein that is produced mainly by the liver to stimulate the production of platelets by bone marrow. Dragon is optimizing its TPO cell lines and intends to complete all pre-clinical testing in 2002.
G-CSF stimulates the bone marrow to produce white blood cells that help fight infection and disease. Dragon recently completed the G-CSF cell line development. Worldwide annual sales for G-CSF are over US $1 billion.
Insulin is a peptide hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows the body to regulate blood sugar levels. Dragon has developed a Pichia yeast cell line for insulin and is set to begin animal studies and other pre-clinical testing. Annual global sales of recombinant human insulin are over US $3 billion.
Both conventional and slow-release EPO stimulate red blood cell production in patients with anemia related to kidney failure, chemotherapy and surgery. Slow-release EPO has the added advantage of requiring significantly fewer doses than conventional EPO. Dragon is currently working with Renapharm AB of Sweden and Transworld Pharmaceuticals of Portugal to finalize the formulation for the slow-release product and expects to enter human clinical trials in 2003.
Dragon’s acquisition of the remaining 25% in Huaxin reflects the Board of Directors’ current commitment to produce and market EPO as well as to develop the products discussed above. As a result of this commitment, the Board of Directors has decided not to pursue the Hepatitis B vaccine project with Alphatech Bioengineering Limited. Because Dragon has decided not to pursue this project, it will be repaid the US $4 million purchase price with interest.