Chinese startup led by Merck vet acquires rights to nasal spray for eye diseases from Oyster Point – Endpoints News

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As the Chinese drug market begins to bear fruit, Western drug manufacturers have tried to meddle, often relying on local partners to do the bulk of the work locally. With so many Chinese companies as willing hosts, a young startup headed by a Merck veteran is about to take over another Western partner.

Ji Xing Pharmaceuticals has the Greater Chinese rights to Oyster Point Pharma’s nasal spray for dry eye candidates OC-01 and OC-02 in exchange for US $ 17.5 million in cash and 0.75% equity in the emerging Chinese biotech -Company acquired, announced the partners on Thursday.

The deal, valued at $ 204.8 million in Biobucks, serves as a second Western partnership for Ji Xing, a Shanghai-based RTW Investments-backed company that emerged from the stealth last month with an undisclosed B-round.

Joe Romanelli

The company is led by Joe Romanelli, former President of Merck China, who oversaw the launch of 20 products in the region, including I / O superstar Keytruda and the HPV vaccine Gardasil, which was the top-selling drug in China according to Biotech that was established by a multinational.

During his four-year tenure with the New Jersey drug maker, Romanelli oversaw its development from the seventh largest multinational drug company in China to the second when he disembarked.

“Stimulating natural tear film production could be a paradigm shift in the treatment of dry eye that affects more than 150 million patients in China,” said Romanelli of the Oyster Point deal. “We are excited to partner with the Oyster Point team, who are innovative pioneers focused on developing therapeutics for eye diseases, bringing both OC-01 and OC-02 to China.”

Ji Xing’s other western partnership, a license agreement with Milestone Pharmaceuticals, also covers a nasal spray, this time for paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and other cardiovascular indications. The drug called etripamil is currently in phase III testing.

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