How Did Innovent Achieve the 2 year Anniversary of Its First Drug Approval to a Market Value of Over $100 billion?
December 25 , 2020
Source: Innovent

Innovent began its journey in 2011 and its mission is to develop, manufacture and commercialize high-quality innovative medicines for the treatment of cancer and other major diseases. On October 31, 2018, Innovent was listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and has achieved many milestones since then. On December 24, 2020, Innovent surpassed the HK$100 billion mark in market capitalization for the first time, coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of the approval of the company's first drug, PD-1 inhibitor Sindilizumab.

From the approval of the first drug to market to the market value of the company exceeded HK$100 billion, how did Innovent achieve that? In an interview in October, Dr. Michael Yu, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Innovent, summarized 3 points reviewing the past success obtained by Innovent:

  • International cooperation to explore the global market

Dr. Yu said that Innovent has been aiming at the global bio-pharmaceutical industry since its establishment, and is committed to building a world-class bio-pharmaceutical enterprise by introducing international talents, establishing international cooperation and developing nationalized markets. Today, Innovent has established a team of high-end bio-pharmaceutical development and industrialization talents with international advanced level, including many returnee experts, and has reached strategic cooperation with international partners such as Eli Lilly, Adimab, Incyte, MDAnderson Cancer Center and Hanmi in Korea.

  • TYVYT® (sintilimab injection) approved by the China NMPA and included in the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL)

In December 2018, TYVYT® (sintilimab injection) was first approved by the China NMPA for the treatment of relapsed or refractory classic Hodgkin's lymphoma after two lines or later of systemic chemotherapy. In February 2021, TYVYT® (sintilimab injection) was approved by the China NMPA in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy as first-line therapy for the treatment of nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. In June 2021, TYVYT® (sintilimab injection) was approved by the China NMPA in combination with gemcitabine and platinum chemotherapy as the first-line therapy for the treatment of squamous non-small cell lung cancer. TYVYT® (sintilimab injection) was included in the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) in 2019 as the first PD-1 inhibitor and the only PD-1 included in the list in that year.

  • Construction of a manufacturing base with international standards

In Yu’s view, to develop high quality biologics that are affordable to the people, the biologic company must first deliver on the promise of "high quality". As a small start-up company in China, how can we produce high-quality biologics with international standard? Innovent has set a layout: to build an international industrial base and to seek international business cooperation.

At that time, one of the fundamental reasons for the backward development of China's bio-pharmaceutical industry was that the production plants did not meet the international standards, the low level of industrialization, small scale, if all enterprises were huddled above the lower standards, not on par with international standards, then the domestic bio-pharmaceutical industry will certainly be eliminated.

In 2012, Innovent once again ventured: to build a base in accordance with the international standards which would not be a backward manufacturing facility ten years after. In 2014, when the industrialization base was completed, Innovent received an olive branch from Eli Lilly, the global pharmaceutical company: the PD-1 inhibitor under development, which was later named as Sintilimab, had excellent performance in terms of affinity and target occupancy. However, Eli Lilly required Innvovent to renovate its industrial base to meet Eli Lilly's standards which was a necessary condition for the collaboration.

According to Eli Lilly's standards, it would take at least 36 months and hundreds of millions of dollars for Innovent to invest, which is undoubtedly a double test of time and capital for a start-up company. It was widely believed that Eli Lilly's production standards were higher than those of the FDA, and Innovent made a choice under tremendous pressure to improve its production line within 18 months. In order to meet this deadline, the company spent a lot of money to hire the largest consulting firm in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry for base renovation, and even put on hold the IBI301 project, which had already obtained clinical approval, thus missing the opportunity to market the first biosimilar in China.

In 2015, the company signed two agreements with Eli Lilly for the development of six monoclonal antibodies and bi-specific antibodies, resulting in the largest international collaboration in the history of Chinese bio-pharmaceuticals and the first time a Chinese company has licensed an innovative biologic to a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.

We are a global biopharma company established in 2011, committed to developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative drugs for the treatment of cancer and other major diseases. We consider our integrated approach to the bio-innovation value chain, our state-of-the-art manufacturing, and our strategic collaborations as signature strengths that have helped us build a robust pipeline to address several important therapeutic areas and make our mark in the world.

This effort has changed the innovation ecology and business model of Chinese bio-pharmaceuticals. It has confirmed to the outside world that high-quality innovative drugs with their own intellectual property rights can provide a sustainable source of funding for corporate development through overseas licensing at the R&D stage.
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