PharmaEssentia launches shares on emerging bourse

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 12, 2014 - Page 13

Drug maker PharmaEssentia Corp (藥華醫藥) yesterday began trading its shares on the smaller Emerging Stock Market and highlighted potential sales of drugs it has in the pipeline.

The company’s shares rose 2.33 percent to NT$210.8 yesterday from the initial public offering price of NT$206, valuing the company at NT$39.57 billion (US$1.31 billion).

The company expects to receive regulatory permission to sell a new drug for treating blood disorders in the US and Europe during the first half of 2016, PharmaEssentia financial director Ellen Chang (張慧敏) said.

The new drug, P1101, is under phase-three clinical trials in Europe, conducted by its European partner AOP Orphan Pharmaceutical AG, Chang said.

PharmaEssentia will soon apply for phase-three trials for the drug in the US and plans to conduct clinical trials for the drug in Taiwan and China in the near future, she said.

Jih Sun Securities Investment Consulting Co (日盛投顧) said PharmaEssentia could acquire 16 percent of P1101 sales from AOP Orphan Pharmaceuticals as royalties after the drug is launched in Europe.

“Currently there is no effective cure for the blood disorder, except P1101 and Jakafi of US-based drug maker Incyte Corp, but because Jakafi is still under phase-two clinical trials and expected to hit the market in 2018, we expect sales of P1101 to benefit from its early entry,” Jih Sun analyst Chang Li-chun (張立群) said in a report yesterday.

Meanwhile, PharmaEssentia is also conducting phase-two trials on the P1101 drug in Taiwan to test whether it can be used to cure hepatitis B and C, and hopes to conduct phase-three studies in South Korea, Thailand and Singapore, according to the company.

However, Jih Sun is less optimistic about sales of the drug for curing hepatitis B and C because the market is already occupied by rival drugs in the US and Europe.

“It is a correct strategy for PharmaEssentia to focus on the Asian market, but the largest market for hepatitis C drugs — China — is a relative closed market,” the analyst said, adding that the company needs to find local partners in China and maybe set up a factory in the country to gain Chinese government approval to sell the drug.

During the first half of last year, the company posted losses of NT$174.7 million, widening from losses of NT$125.89 million a year earlier, because of high research and development expenditure, according to the company’s filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

PharmaEssentia said its research spending this year would be NT$600 million to NT$700 million, slightly higher than last year.

The company is to apply for listing on the GRETAI securities market after six months and it estimates it will be listed on the market in the fourth quarter of this year.