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Amgen-BeiGene deal could spark copycats; Healthcare tops S&P 500 in October

SNL ImageAmgen Inc.'s $2.7 billion deal with BeiGene Ltd. could signal an increase in partnerships with Chinese companies.
Source: AP Photo

Amgen Inc.'s $2.7 billion licensing and cancer research deal with BeiGene Ltd. may be a wake-up call for other U.S. pharmaceutical companies to seek new partnerships in China to gain a foothold in the emerging market.

"[The U.S.] healthcare sector is maturing, and we're trying to spend less on drugs in our country," Brad Loncar, biotech investor and CEO of Loncar Investments, said in an interview. "China is where a big portion of the future growth of our industry is, and I think that's starting to dawn on all companies."

Amgen picked up a 20.5% stake in BeiGene, under which three of Amgen's drugs will be sold in China for at least five years. The two will also work to develop drugs in the California company's pipeline.

For Amgen, which has suffered under the weight of competitive generics and biosimilars of its once-profitable drugs, reaching into China's growth market gives the company a chance to gain a foothold while drug prices are at risk in the U.S.

Franck Le Deu, a Hong Kong-based senior partner at the McKinsey & Co. management consulting firm, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the Amgen-BeiGene move would spur more companies to consider aligning with Chinese biotechs.

"Ultimately, companies have to determine if a go-alone strategy, with some partnerships, is the way to go, or if a bigger structural move is needed to effectively compete in the China market," Le Deu said. "Similarly, emerging Chinese biotechs are likely to pursue strategic collaborations with multinationals more purposefully — all of this should feed a fertile ground for business development."

Amgen-BeiGene deal an awakening for US pharma seeking space in Chinese market

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Essential Healthcare is a weekly collection of critical developments across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare provider, healthcare technology and medical equipment industries that draws on exclusive analysis and value-added content from the Healthcare News team at S&P Global Market Intelligence. Subscribe now to get Essential Healthcare delivered to your inbox every week.