Chinese biotechnology firm Ascletis Pharma becomes the first biotech company to apply for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong after the exchange implemented new, more relaxed listing rules that allow biotech firms to list even if they still have not made profit or revenue.
The Hangzhou-based company, which is nearing the commercialisation of a new hepatitis C drug in China, told the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing that it will use the proceeds from its listing for further research and development of its core product pipeline and pursue in-licensing of new drug candidates.
Ascletis expects to launch “Danoprevir”, the first hepatitis C cure developed by a mainland Chinese firm, by September 30.
The drug “demonstrated a far higher cure rate of 97 per cent and a shorter treatment duration of 12 weeks”, the company said. That compares to the 60 per cent success rate and up to 72 weeks of treatment duration of current drugs pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
Hepatitis C is a widespread and infectious liver disease caused by HVC, commonly transmitted through unsafe healthcare procedures, poorly sterilised medical equipment, and transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
In China, HVC is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is no vaccine for HVC.
The company said HCV patient population in China is expected to grow steadily to 27.3 million in 2026, representing a hepatitis C prevalence rate of 1.89 per cent.
“The market potential for breakthrough HVC treatments in China is vast,” Ascletics said.
Founded in 2011, Ascletis has recently secured $155 million in financing from a number of investors, including C-Bridge Capital GP, Goldman Sachs Entities, and Qianhai Cayman.