Shanghai-based Everest Medicines has raised US$310 million in the latest round of fundraising from investors to fund the development of eight potential drug candidates in the pipeline. The three-year-old start-up’s Series C round was led by Hong Kong-based Janchor Partners, RA Capital Management, Hillhouse Capital, and state-owned Jiashan SDIC. In March, Jiashan SDIC agreed to infuse US$100 million to support the company’s clinical trials and build drug manufacturing facilities in an economic zone in Zhejiang province bordering Shanghai. “This is an important milestone for Everest Medicines that reinforces our deep industry expertise and business model to in-licence global innovation for the development of critical therapies in Greater China and Asia,” said Kerry Blanchard, chief executive of Everest. Everest did not specify the amount invested by each investor, whether it intends to raise more private capital or go straight for an initial public offering. Before this round, Everest had raised funds totalling US$270 million. Last June, Bloomberg had reported quoting sources that CBC Group, a Singapore-based private equity firm and a founding investor in the biopharmaceutical firm, was exploring a potential share sale to raise between US$200 million and US$300 million. However, the plans did not materialise. Chinese biotechs, flushed with funds and armed with ideas, join the race to find a coronavirus cure CBC has so far invested US$200 million in Everest, including US$50 million in Series C, a spokesperson said. Everest is among a growing number of new drug companies in the mainland drawing funding from domestic and international investors, who are attracted by the growth potential of the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market. The mainland market was worth 1.53 trillion yuan (US$215.4 billion) in 2018 based on industry sales, growing by a compound annual rate of 8.1 per cent in four years from 2014, according to market researcher Frost & Sullivan. Some US$4.4 billion of private equity investments into 142 Chinese pharmaceutical and biotech firms were recorded last year, up from US$3.5 billion in 2018 and US$954 million in 2017, according to Refinitiv. Some 62 deals worth US$1.9 billion have been closed so far this year. Blanchard joined Everest in February from Hong Kong-listed Innovent Biologics, where he oversaw the progress of its cancer drug sintilimab into the marketplace. It was the first “PD-1 monoclonal antibody” drug included in China’s national health insurance drugs reimbursement list, a key milestone in enhancing the drug’s affordability and market penetration. Set up late 2017, Everest focuses on developing drugs already discovered or marketed overseas for the China and Asia markets by licensing development and commercialisation rights from the innovators. The pipeline includes trodelvy, a breast cancer drug developed by New Jersey-based Immunomedics and approved for sale in the US. Everest plans to conduct clinical trials on the drug in China for treating multiple solid tumours. It is also doing phase three trials – typically the last round required before marketing approval is applied – with Massachusetts-based partner Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals on xerava, an antibiotic for treating complicated intra-abdominal infections in China. It has been approved in the US and European Union. In cooperation with Boston-based Arena Pharmaceuticals, Everest will conduct phase-three trials on etrasimod, a drug candidate for the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis in mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan. The drug has not been approved in the US. Global phase-three trials are also under way with Pennsylvania-based Venatorx Pharmaceuticals for a urinary tract infection drug, and with Maryland-based United Therapeutics for pulmonary arterial hypertension. PAH patients’ narrow or blocked lung arteries could lead to heart failure.