Sanpower buys prostate vaccine maker Dendreon

Jiangsu-based Sanpower has acquired Dendreon, a Seattle-based maker of the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge, from Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International for $820 million.


Yuan Yafei, chairman of Sanpower, flew from Nanjing to the Bay Area to attend the contract-signing ceremony on Monday. His counterpart, Joseph Papa, chairman and CEO of Valeant, revealed that both sides discussed the acquisition late last year and signed the deal on Monday.

“With this sale, we are better aligning our product portfolio with Valeant’s new operating strategy by exiting the urological oncology business, which is one of our non-core assets,” Papa said in a statement on Monday.

Provenge is the first and only commercial product of Dendreon that, as an autologous cellular immunotherapy for prostate cancer, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in April 2010.

Dendreon filed for US Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2014, and Valeant acquired its assets in February 2015 for about $300 million.

“We are excited about this transaction,” said Yuan, “and this is so far the biggest-ticket acquisition in the pharmaceutical field between China and America.”

In the past 20 years, prostate cancer has become more prevalent in China, with its incidence rising tenfold.

The acquisition is an important step in the precision medical treatment sector for Sanpower, Yuan said.

“We want to introduce Provenge into China as soon as possible and let millions of Chinese patients benefit from this advanced medical technology and treatment,” said Yuan, adding that the acquisition might also help accelerate the construction of a national standard in the field of cellular immunotherapy in China.

Established in 1993, Sanpower is ranked 19th on China’s 500 Strongest Private Companies List, with five pillar business units such as healthcare, information services, commerce, financial services and real estate.

In recent years, Sanpower strengthened its investment in the healthcare sector with frequent purchases of facilities and technologies. In 2016, the group completed the acquisition of China Cord Blood Corp and Shandong Cord Blood Bank to become the world’s largest cord blood banking operator.

“The big data from our cord blood bank provides the foundations for precise medical care,” Yuan said.

After the acquisition, Valeant will exit oncology and other non-core therapeutic business and concentrate on reconstructing its key resources, Papa said.

Dendreon had filed for bankruptcy protection after sales of Provenge fell short of expectations and left the company deep in debt.

The sale to Sanpower is expected to close in the first half of 2017. Valeant said it will use the proceeds to repay its term-loan debt under its senior credit facility.


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