Pharmaniaga Bhd and CCM Duopharma Bhd are companies leading the charge in the race to supply the Covid-19 vaccine to 32.7 million Malaysians. Both have fill and finish facilities that have been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and are tipped to handle the supply of vaccines that the government purchases. The priority list for the government is the frontliners and the elderly who are most at risk. That leaves quite a number of people who would want to be inoculated and likely to seek the vaccine from the private healthcare system. Seizing the opportunity, there are also a host of companies wanting to bring in vaccines to cater to the private sector. From property developers to engineering companies, most are looking at registering the vaccine with the NPRA and distributing it to the private sector. So far, only Solution Group Bhd is looking at building a fill and finish facility to undertake the packaging of the vaccines before it is distributed. The rest are looking at distributing the vaccine after it has been registered with the NPRA. There are eight pharmaceutical companies undertaking stage three clinical trials of their vaccine. So far Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine has been approved for mass inoculation in the UK, the United States and the Saudi Arabia. The rest are expecting the results of the clinical trials to come out in stages over the next few weeks. Below we look at companies on Bursa Malaysia that have forged a tie up with pharmaceutical companies whose vaccines are in stage three of clinical trials. SOLUTION GROUP BHDTHE company has an exclusive tie-up with CanSino Biologics of China to distribute the vaccine in Malaysia and the region. Solution recently completed a placement to raise more than RM28mil. The proceeds have been entirely set aside to build a fill and finish facility in Selangor and also to register the vaccine with the local authorities. The company said it was awaiting approval from NPRA for the fill and finish facility that is expected to be ready between four and six months after approval is obtained. Solution Group is not a newcomer to the biotech business as it already designs and provides equipment and process solutions to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. It is designing the fill and finish facility to cater for regional production. CanSino Biologics vaccine was administered to the Chinese military a few months ago and it was supposed to be tested in Canada. Due to diplomatic problems between Canada and China, the vaccine was not tested in the North American country. The adenovirus technology used by CanSino Biologics is now being tested for phase three trials in several countries including Pakistan, Mexico, Argentina. Chile, Saudi Arabia and Russia. In the latest development, Mexico has placed orders for 35 million doses of the Cansino Biologics vaccine. GI HEALTHCARE RESOURCES SDN BHDTHE little-known private company has the backing of heavyweights from the property sector. Home Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba announced its entry into the vaccine scene. Also at the announcement were the controlling shareholder of Mah Sing Group Bhd Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum and property developer, Tan Sri Lim Yew Loong of the LYL group. The other notable names in GI Healthcare Resources are Sim Guan Yu and lawyer Rosli Dahlan who is the adviser. For starters, Sinopharm, which is owned by China National Pharmaceutical Group and GI Healthcare Resources are sponsoring 10,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Malaysia. Eventually, GI Healthcare Resources is expected to undertake the distribution of the Sinopharm vaccine. So far it is not known if GI Healthcare Resources will also go into the fill and finish process. Sinopharm is one of the three leading vaccines producers from China whose product is being tested for phase three clinical trials in other countries where there are many Covid-19 cases. Among the countries participating in the test are Indonesia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates. According to latest reports, UAE has reported an efficacy rate of more than 90% while Indonesia has stated that it has yet to conclude the outcome of the phase three trials. Kanger International BhdLIKE GI Healthcare Resources, the company is also looking at distributing vaccines produced by Sinopharm in Malaysia. Towards this end, Kanger has a three-year collaboration agreement with Hunan Changde Medical Co Ltd to distribute Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines and medical equipment. The vaccines are developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp, which has two facilities working on the product. One is located in Wuhan and the other in Beijing.Kanger, in a filing with Bursa Malaysia, stated that it has the greenlight from the National Institutes of Biotechnology Malaysia (NIBM) to communicate with the stakeholders of Sinopharm to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for the private sector. However, any vaccine coming into Malaysia needs the green light from the NPRA, which is the most important body when it comes to pharmaceutical products. While waiting for the necessary approvals, Kanger has entered into an agreement with Zuellig Pharma Sdn Bhd to distribute the vaccine. Zuellig Pharma’s role is to handle warehousing, inventory management, packing and delivery to customers upon the arrival of vaccines on Malaysian shores. Kanger’s role is to facilitate the availability of the vaccine in Malaysia including liaising with the authorities and sales and marketing of the product. To diversify into healthcare, Kanger has proposed a placement to raise up to RM68.9mil. The shares are being placed out in tranches.Bintai Kinden Corp BHDTHE engineering company’s plunge into healthcare was a surprise. In August it entered into an agreement with Generex Biotechnology Corp to commercialise a vaccine developed by the US based company in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. It also has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Institut Jantung Negara for collaboration in its objective of commercialising the vaccine in Malaysia. But Bintai Kinden going into the vaccine game is dependent on whether Generex gets the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Generex is a biotech company that has created on-demand peptide vaccines to control outbreaks such as Avian Flu, swine flu and SARS. It is using similar technology to produce a vaccine, which it describes as having the potential to induce antibody immune response against the Covid-19 virus. Bintai Kinden stated that Generex has the permission of the FDA to commence testing of its vaccine from phase one to three. It is not known at which stage of the testing Generex is currently conducting. To undertake the pre-commercialisation, Bintai Kinden will assist Generex financially to the tune of US$2.625mil (RM10.64mil) to be paid in stages. A sum of US$2mil (RM8.1mil) is to be paid after a distribution and licensing agreement has been signed and the balance when Generex has procured all approvals from the FDA on the commercialisation of the vaccine. Bintai Kinden is to commence registration of the vaccine with the NPRA after the FDA approval has come through. The company has engaged a consultant to help it with the registration process.
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