Headed for the exit: Sanofi CEO Brandicourt to retire, Novartis' Hudson steps in

fiercepharma | June 07, 2019

On Sept. 1, Brandicourt will retire, and Hudson—who was formerly president of Novartis’ pharma business—will take the reins at the French drugmaker. The change in leadership comes after Sanofi in March confirmed it was working on succession planning for Brandicourt, who took the helm at Sanofi in April 2015. At the time, the CEO was two years away from his 65th birthday, and the company sets that age limit for its leaders. It also comes after several years of turmoil at the French drugmaker. As CEO, Brandicourt has grappled with a diabetes business torpedoed by pricing pressure and competition and a thin pipeline of new drug candidates. He quickly unveiled a restructuring plan to cut costs and jobs and focus on five business units. He also got to work scouting deals. After missing out on Medivation and Actelion, Sanofi last year inked buyouts of Ablynx and Bioverativ, boosting its rare disease presence. The company also swapped assets with Boehringer Ingelheim in 2016, sending away its animal health group in exchange for Boehringer’s consumer healthcare business. Despite those efforts, Sanofi was still struggling, as last year's numbers show. The company posted a sales decline in 2018 and cut its CEO’s pay by 25% to €7.28 million ($8.2 million), making his among the smallest compensation packages in Big Pharma. Sanofi has promising launches underway—including Dupixent—and believes it’ll grow sales in the future.

Spotlight

Precision medicine is a young and growing field. Many of the technologies that will be needed to meet the goals of the Precision Medicine Initiative are in the early stages of development or have not yet been developed.

Spotlight

Precision medicine is a young and growing field. Many of the technologies that will be needed to meet the goals of the Precision Medicine Initiative are in the early stages of development or have not yet been developed.

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PHARMA TECH

Asahi Kasei Pharma to Sponsor Research for Drug Discovery Research and Technology: Open Innovation 2023

Asahi Kasei | October 17, 2022

Asahi Kasei Pharma, subsidiary of diversified Japanese multinational company Asahi Kasei, is publicly calling for new proposals for drug development research as part of its efforts for open innovation to promote pharmaceutical research and development through enhanced cooperation with universities, research institutes and enterprises around the world. The application period begins at 5:00 a.m. GMT on January 5, 2023 and ends at 8:00 a.m. GMT on February 28, 2023. Asahi Kasei Pharma established its Open Innovation Department in October 2016 with the mission to further strengthen and enhance global licensing and alliance-building activities, and has since funded around 5 proposals per year on average with a total of over 20 funded proposals for state-of-the-art pharmaceutical drug developments as well as collected a wealth of creative new ideas. The Open Innovation team is seeking to fund innovative proposals from researchers around the world for up to US$200,000 per year, per project for this upcoming round in 2023. Asahi Kasei Pharma will then pursue joint research opportunities with the drug discovery researchers together with their parent institutions in hopes to create new innovative drugs for diseases that currently have unmet needs or pioneer new platform technologies for drug discovery. Asahi Kasei Pharma has demonstrated a successful track record in developing new drugs in the realms of autoimmune, renal, neurological, and bone disease, so the organization can provide the greatest contribution from correlating research areas and subjects. "Asahi Kasei Pharma believes that nobody should have to give up what they would like to do because of illness. We believe great science comes from working together, and we are excited for the opportunity to accomplish this mission with researchers all over the world.” Osamu Matsuzaki, Primary Executive Officer and Head of R&D and Business Development at Asahi Kasei Pharma Open Innovation works to establish research collaborations related to innovative drug targets and candidate drug compounds up to the preclinical stage as well as advanced drug discovery technologies. Advancements in exploring a new mechanism of action for treating refractory autoimmune disease is one of the most promising outcomes of the research so far, with many more on the horizon. Asahi Kasei believes that these continued efforts to advance drug discovery and research technology will further contribute to life and living for people around the world. About Asahi Kasei The Asahi Kasei Group contributes to life and living for people around the world. Since its foundation in 1922 with ammonia and cellulose fiber businesses, Asahi Kasei has consistently grown through the proactive transformation of its business portfolio to meet the evolving needs of every age. With more than 46,000 employees around the world, the company contributes to a sustainable society by providing solutions to the world's challenges through its three business sectors of Material, Homes, and Health Care. Its health care operations include devices and systems for acute critical care, dialysis, therapeutic apheresis, transfusion, and manufacture of biotherapeutics, as well as pharmaceuticals and diagnostic reagents.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Athira Pharma Advances Phase 2/3 LIFT-AD Clinical Study of Fosgonimeton in Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer’s Patients

Athira Pharma, Inc. | October 18, 2022

Athira Pharma, Inc. a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and slow neurodegeneration, today announced that following an unblinded interim efficacy and futility analysis, an independent data monitoring committee recommended continuation of the LIFT-AD study of fosgonimeton in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The committee also determined that, with the additional enrollment of fewer than 150 patients for a total enrollment of less than 300 patients without background therapy the study will be well powered for the primary endpoint given the preliminary effect size observed. The primary endpoint of LIFT-AD is the Global Statistical Test, an unweighted composite score comprising measures of cognition and function. Results from the completed exploratory ACT-AD Phase 2 study showed a favorable safety profile and suggested positive effects on measures of cognition function and neurodegeneration in patients taking fosgonimeton without background therapy. Guided by these results, the Company proactively amended LIFT-AD to focus on patients not on background therapy. The unblinded interim analysis was then conducted in approximately 100 patients not on background therapy to corroborate observations from ACT-AD and ensure LIFT-AD is well powered to determine the effect of fosgonimeton on clinically meaningful and commercially relevant endpoints. “The results from the data monitoring committee’s unblinded analysis give us confidence in a potentially positive outcome for LIFT-AD, as stringent evaluation criteria were applied based on validated and clinically meaningful cognitive and functional outcomes. This analysis supports the potential clinical benefits of fosgonimeton treatment and underscores the rationale for continued development of this promising new therapy.” Hans Moebius, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer of Athira “We are very excited by the results of this independent review as we believe they mitigate the risk of the fosgonimeton development plan, support the potential clinical benefit of fosgonimeton and inform the sample size needed to achieve success with LIFT-AD,” said Mark Litton, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Athira. “We are now targeting to complete enrollment in mid-2023 and report topline data in early 2024. Importantly, we have a strong balance sheet to execute our plans through key data readouts and beyond. Moving forward, we remain keenly focused on advancing this novel investigational therapy with the hope of positively impacting the lives of millions of Alzheimer’s patients. “Our goal with fosgonimeton is to demonstrate its ability to improve cognition and function and to ultimately provide neuroprotection. The ACT-AD study suggested these benefits, and the results of the LIFT-AD interim analysis corroborate those findings,” added Dr. Litton. “We believe any drug that can demonstrate neuroprotection could become a treatment of choice for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s patients.” About the LIFT-AD Clinical Study LIFT-AD is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of fosgonimeton for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Patients are randomized across two dose groups and one placebo group on a 1:1:1 basis to receive a subcutaneous injection of fosgonimeton or placebo once daily over a treatment course of 26 weeks. The primary endpoint for LIFT-AD is the Global Statistical Test, an unweighted composite score comprising measures of cognition (Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale and function. Additional information on the LIFT-AD study can be found at: NCT04488419. About Fosgonimeton Fosgonimeton is a small molecule designed to enhance the activity of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor, MET, to impact neurodegeneration and regenerate brain tissue. The function of the HGF/MET receptor system may be impaired in the brain under conditions of neurodegeneration. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, fosgonimeton has the potential to address the broader dementia population, including Parkinson’s disease dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies, as the mode of action focuses on network recovery and synaptic signal transmission in the brain. The ACT-AD trial was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AG06268. The information presented in this press release is solely the responsibility of Athira and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. About Athira Pharma, Inc. Athira Pharma, Inc., headquartered in the Seattle, Washington area, is a late clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecules to restore neuronal health and slow neurodegeneration. Athira aims to provide rapid cognitive improvement and alter the course of neurological diseases with its novel mechanism of action. Athira is currently advancing its pipeline of therapeutic candidates targeting the HGF/MET neurotrophic system for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies and neuropsychiatric indications.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Aptar Expands Pharmaceutical Services Announces Exclusive Collaboration Between Aptar Pharma and Fluidda

Aptar Pharma and Fluidda | September 23, 2022

Nanopharm, an Aptar Pharma company and leader in contract research and development services for orally inhaled and nasal drug products announced an exclusive collaboration with Fluidda, a leader in the field of Functional Respiratory Imaging. The companies will leverage their respective proprietary technology platforms to help accelerate U.S. Food & Drug Administration approvals for orally inhaled generic products via the alternative bioequivalence pathway. Nanopharm was acquired by Aptar in 2019, as part of the company’s strategy to expand its services offerings and partner with pharmaceutical companies earlier in the drug development process. Nanopharm has pioneered the development of the alternative bioequivalence regulatory pathway for U.S. FDA approval of generic OIDPs for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease using its proprietary in vitro and in silico service platform, SmartTrack™. Fluidda’s proprietary in silico platform FRI delivers quantitative predictions of regional drug deposition in disease state lungs using Computational Fluid Dynamics. The FRI platform provides critical information to help understand the availability and activity of the drug at the site of action in the lungs, when complemented by Nanopharm’s local lung physiologically-based pharmacokinetic model platform and its in vitro data. This novel approach is intended to allow pharma companies to file Abbreviated New Drug Application dossiers without the need to perform time-consuming, costly and often unpredictable clinical end-point studies. Similarly, it can support 505(b)(2) filings, by derisking and abbreviating clinical studies. “We are pleased to solidify our relationship with Fluidda and its world-leading FRI technology. A company would have to spend several years to achieve the current combined expertise and experience of Nanopharm and Fluidda. The collaboration between Nanopharm and Fluidda has the potential to revolutionize this arduous regulatory pathway,” Dr. Jag Shur, Vice President, Science & Technology at Nanopharm Having already worked together closely for a number of years, Nanopharm and Fluidda have gained a unique insight into the complex and continually evolving regulatory requirements. This exclusive collaboration deepens the relationship between Fluidda and Nanopharm, benefiting both patients and customers with an uncompromised and holistic approach in developing the scientific rationale to demonstrate bioequivalence using only in vitro and in silico methodologies. The first potential approval of an OIDP using the alternative bioequivalence approach is pending, and, when approved, will further validate Nanopharm’s SmartTrack™ as the go-to solution for alternative bioequivalence studies and should accelerate demand for the companies’ collective services. With momentum building for the transition to new lower global warming potential (GWP) propellants for pMDIs, SmartTrack™ will also help companies to understand and modulate the impact of these new propellants on drug deposition and dissolution in the lungs, giving confidence in the performance of the reformulated product before embarking on any necessary clinical studies. Dr. Jan de Backer, CEO of Fluidda, stated, “Fluidda has already demonstrated the applicability of its FRI platform to provide more objective data for evaluating and administering inhaled drug products accurately. Nanopharm’s unique SmartTrack™ platform provides us with clinically-relevant input data without having to actually go into the clinic, which really adds another level of confidence to the models, and provides an integrated perspective.” Guillaume Brouet, Vice President, Analytical, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs at Aptar Pharma, commented, “Aptar Pharma is delighted to collaborate with Fluidda on this important development, which reinforces our mission to help customers derisk and accelerate their drug product development programs.” About Aptar Aptar Pharma is part of AptarGroup, Inc., a global leader in the design and manufacturing of a broad range of drug delivery, consumer product dispensing and active material science solutions and services. Aptar’s innovative solutions and services serve a variety of end markets including pharmaceutical, beauty, personal care, home care, food and beverage. Aptar Pharma’s analytical, laboratory and regulatory services add value at every stage of the drug development process, accelerating and de-risking the program along the way. Nanopharm, an Aptar Pharma company, is a leading provider of specialized analytical and product development services, with a focus on orally inhaled and nasal drug products. Aptar is headquartered in Crystal Lake, Illinois and has 13,000 dedicated employees in 20 countries. About Fluidda FLUIDDA, founded in 2005, is the world leader in the field of Functional Respiratory Imaging (FRI). This technique combines HRCT scans and Computational Fluid Dynamics technology (CFD), which offers vast improvements by making clinical trials shorter, faster and thus, more cost effective. FRI also helps patients and healthcare providers in offering a unique entry point in personalized medicine, by optimizing diagnosis, monitoring disease progression and the effects of therapy including accurate assessment of the deposition of inhalation medication. Fluidda’s mission is to optimize treatment pathways, reduce healthcare costs and to limit the go-to-market time of respiratory drugs, pulmonology medical devices and therapies. Fluidda has offices in Belgium, the United States and Portugal.

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