Meridigen eyeing future benefits of new drug deal

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Mar 04, 2013 - Page 13

Drugmaker Meridigen Biotech Co Ltd (宣捷生技) said that it has signed a NT$100 million (US$3.37 million) contract with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) to license the institute’s technology to make new drugs to treat autoimmune diseases.

Meridigen Biotech, established in 2010, expects that the new drugs would receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials in the US within a year, chief executive officer Ada Kung (龔曉嘉) said during a press conference on Friday.

Kung said it would probably take between seven and 10 years for its drugs for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis to reach the market.

She said the company would need a capital injection of NT$2 billion for the drugs’ development.

The firm did not elaborate on how it would raise the funds to finance the new drugs’ development.

Meridigen was co-founded by company chairman Yogi Hsuan (宣昶有), son of John Hsuan (宣明智), who is also a co-founder of the firm and emeritus vice chairman of contract chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp (聯華電子).

John Hsuan holds a seat on Meridigen’s board of directors.

Kung said the firm acknowledges that new drug development requires a significant amount of investment and that returns are uncertain and delayed.

Although the company does not have current sources of income, it has enough funding for its operations, Kung added.

Although some companies sell their new drugs to larger drug manufacturers when the drugs pass the second stage of clinical trials, Kung said it is still too early for Meridigen to consider such a proposal, adding that the firm would evaluate all options based on the progress of its use of Collabody technology.

“ITRI has spent seven years developing Collabody and it has high potential,” general director of ITRI’s Biomedical Technology and Device Research Laboratories Shau Yio-wha (邵耀華) said on the sidelines of the press conference held by Meridigen on Friday.

Compared with other drugs on the market, Collabody technology can make more effective drugs with fewer side effects, Shau said.

Drugs manufactured using Collabody technology are designed to mitigate the inflammation caused by the release of cytokine from the body, which prevents many other drugs from passing the third stage of clinical trials, Shau said.