Celgene, say goodbye to Otezla: BMS agrees to sell psoriasis drug to clear $74B merger

fiercepharma | June 24, 2019

With the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sweating the details of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene’s proposed $74 billion merger, all eyes were on the companies’ combined psoriasis portfolio, which regulators feared would corner the market. The feds found a solution: You can have your merger, but you don’t get to keep Celgene's blockbuster Otezla. Bristol-Myers will sell the psoriasis pill as part of a consent decree with the FTC intended to speed up its Celgene merger, the company said. Otezla, which cleared more than $1.6 billion in global sales in 2018, was not considered one of the core assets in the merger, according to Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan. The divesture will likely delay the merger's approval until late 2019 or early 2020, overshooting plans for a Q3 approval this year, Bristol-Myers said. "Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to working with regulatory authorities around the world on the proposed combination with Celgene,” Bristol-Myers said in a statement. “The company is focused on realizing the promise of the transaction, and is continuing to work to complete the transaction on a timely basis.” In snap reactions to the news Monday, analysts expressed a common thought: surprise. Jefferies analysts said targeting Otezla, which competes with five to seven major competitors in psoriasis and isn’t considered a “dominant power,” revealed the FTC’s tight strategy on pharma M&A. “We believe this is a (potential) read-through that the FTC is being tougher on regulating competition,” the analysts said. Divan said there could be multiple buyers for Otezla, but Bristol-Myers’ leverage in a potential sale would be limited with the mandatory nature of the castoff.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

insitro Appoints Philip Tagari, Industry-Leading Scientist and Drug Hunter, as Chief Scientific Officer

insitro | December 02, 2022

insitro, a machine learning-powered drug discovery and development company announced that Philip Tagari has been appointed as chief scientific officer. Tagari joins insitro following a 24-year career at Amgen, where he has led the organization's research platforms for over a decade as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery. “I am deeply excited to partner with Philip on insitro’s journey to build a transformative biology platform for the efficient discovery and development of effective medicines for patients in need. Philip brings unparalleled experience in drug development, including building and utilizing cutting-edge platforms, profound scientific expertise across therapeutic areas and modalities, and most importantly, the humility and courage to transcend the drug discovery status quo and do things differently.” Daphne Koller, Ph.D., founder and CEO of insitro Tagari joins a cross-functional team of experts in biology and technology at insitro, part of a uniquely collaborative culture that spans the boundaries of both fields. “Philip’s inspiring track record of fusing science and technology to build innovative platforms and leading therapeutic programs from bench to approval will guide us in the next step of insitro’s journey, as we deploy our expertise to identify exciting new targets and design therapeutic molecules,” said Koller. “insitro is completely redefining our understanding of disease biology and developing novel therapeutic strategies for a variety of grievous illnesses. Using machine learning on genetics and multi-modal phenotypic data at scale from human cohorts and cellular systems, their cutting edge laboratories are rapidly generating differentiated approaches to currently intractable unmet needs,” Tagari said. “I’m thrilled to partner with Daphne and insitro’s world-class scientists and technologists in achieving a patient-driven vision brought to life in a different kind of drug company.” Tagari joins insitro in early 2023 from Amgen, where he has held a variety of roles since 1998, and served as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery, since 2012. During his time at Amgen, Tagari built and led a global organization of over 600 scientists that delivered numerous experimental and marketed therapies in neurology, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and oncology. Throughout his career, which includes a decade at Merck and research positions at McGill University and Oxford University, Tagari made significant contributions toward multiple first-in-class, disease-modifying, life-changing therapies including Lumakras, Repatha, Singulair, Aimovig, Evenity, Tarlatamab, Acapatamab, Efavaleukin alfa, and AMG 133. With more than 30 years of research experience, he brings expertise across neurobiology, metabolic disease, hematology/oncology, immunology and inflammation, cell and molecular biology, antibody discovery and biologics engineering, medicinal, peptide and oligonucleotide chemistry, analytical chemistry and biochemistry, structural biology, pharmacokinetics, safety pharmacology, laboratory automation and information technologies. Tagari has published or contributed to more than 70 peer-reviewed publications. “I had the privilege of working with Philip for more than 15 years, first at Merck, and thereafter at Amgen, and can say unequivocally that he ranks among the most accomplished, and most innovative, scientific leaders in the industry,” said Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., currently president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Eikon Therapeutics, Inc., (formerly EVP R&D both at Amgen and at Merck), and is a member of insitro’s Board of Directors. “With Philip as chief scientific officer and partner to Daphne, insitro will be well positioned to ensure that insights from its machine learning-enabled discovery platform contribute to the development of important new medicines that will make a meaningful difference for patients.” About insitro insitro is a data-driven drug discovery and development company using machine learning and data at scale to transform the way that drugs are discovered and developed for patients. insitro is developing predictive machine learning models to discover underlying biologic states based on human cohort data and in-house generated cellular data at scale. These predictive models are being brought to bear on key bottlenecks in pharmaceutical R&D to advance novel targets and patient biomarkers, design therapeutics and inform clinical strategy. insitro is advancing a wholly owned and partnered pipeline of biologic insights and molecules in metabolism and neuroscience. Since formation in mid 2018, insitro has raised over $700 million from top tech, biotech, and crossover investors, and from collaborations with pharmaceutical partners.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMA TECH

MTTI Receives Chinese Patent for EVATHERA Technology

Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc. | December 07, 2022

Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc. announces the issuance of Chinese Patent CN109153641B covering MTTI’s lead radiotherapeutic product, EBTATE™ and others in its EvaThera™ platform. Approval of “Chemical conjugates of Evans blue derivatives and their use as radiotherapeutic and imaging agents” follows issued patents in the US, Europe, Singapore, and Japan this past year. EBTATE is a new generation of peptide receptor radiotherapeutic drug that has demonstrated potential clinical superiority over standard of care. It selectively targets and binds to somatostatin receptor 2 on neuroendocrine and other tumors, which are then killed by the radionuclide. EvaThera platform products were designed to bind to serum albumin, due to the Evans blue moiety, extending in vivo residence time, enabling lower, less frequent dosing of the radiopharmaceutical and reducing risk of renal injury vs. the current standard of care. Our recent 3-year follow-up report on a 30-patient, ex-US, EBTATE study showed stable disease with progression-free survival of 43 months after three cycles of EBTATE. EBTATE treatment is effective and less toxic for neuroendocrine tumor patients. * “This complements our IP portfolio, further protecting our EvaThera platform.” He added, “We’re continuing to bolster our position in radiotheranostics with planned clinical trials of our two platform products in multiple indications.” Chris Pak, MTTI’s President & CEO About Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc. Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc., is a privately held, rapidly growing, well financed, clinical-stage biotech company developing next-generation targeted radiotherapeutics and diagnostics for rare cancers. We are committed to building value by acquiring and translating innovative imaging, radiopharmaceutical and theranostics assets to improve human health, reduce healthcare costs and reward stakeholders. MTTI expects to be orchestrating multiple clinical trials in 2023.

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VIEWS AND ANALYSIS, PHARMACY MARKET

Vincerx Pharma Presents Preclinical Data on VIP943 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Models at the 64th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting 2022

Vincerx Pharma, Inc. | December 12, 2022

Vincerx Pharma, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company aspiring to address the unmet medical needs of patients with cancer through paradigm-shifting therapeutics, today announced a poster presentation of preclinical data of Vincerx’s proprietary payload and linker technology and VIP943, the Company’s internalizing ADC targeting CD123, at the 64th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting 2022. VIP943 is a novel ADC, which binds to the IL3-receptor alpha chain . VIP943 combines the unique payload class of kinesin spindle protein inhibitors with a proprietary legumain-cleavable linker. Vincerx’s CellTrapper™ modification of the KSPi prevents diffusion out of the cell, allowing intracellular accumulation. The nonpermeability of the payload prevents off-target toxicities, leading to favorable efficacy and safety profiles. “I am truly excited about the preclinical results for VIP943 and our proprietary payload and linker technology presented at ASH,” said Ahmed Hamdy, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vincerx. “For the first time, we showed a significant improvement in safety over an approved ADC, demonstrating in non-human primates the benefit of our KSPi payload and CellTrapper technology specifically designed to address some of the well-known challenges of ADCs on the market. The in vivo AML mouse model results also showed improved efficacy and survival for VIP943 in combination with venetoclax and azacitidine. This triple combination resulted in significant tumor regression as demonstrated by five complete responses and significantly prolonged survival time without increased toxicity,” added Dr. Hamdy. “This ADC is innovative and exciting. The target is well understood and the novel payload that targets myeloid cells suggests this could be a valuable agent for patients with AML.” Dr. Anthony Tolcher, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Founder and Director of Clinical Research at NEXT Oncology “Current standard of care for AML patients is combination therapy with venetoclax and azacitidine, yet most patients eventually relapse with progressive disease. The efficacy and safety data for VIP943 we see in our studies suggest it may be a promising option for treating AML as a monotherapy in relapse/refractory elderly, unfit and high-risk patients as well as in combination with venetoclax and azacitidine. Our results also provide compelling evidence that VIP943 represents a substantial advancement and potential paradigm-shift in ADC technology. We look forward to continuing to advance the IND-enabling studies for VIP943 and expect to file our IND in mid-2023,” concluded Dr. Hamdy. ABOUT VINCERX PHARMA, INC. Vincerx Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage life sciences company focused on leveraging its extensive development and oncology expertise to advance new therapies intended to address unmet medical needs for the treatment of cancer. Vincerx has assembled a management team of biopharmaceutical experts with extensive experience in building and operating organizations that develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients. Vincerx’s current pipeline derives from an exclusive license agreement with Bayer and includes a clinical-stage and follow-on small molecule drug program and a preclinical stage modular bioconjugation platform, which includes next-generation antibody-drug conjugates and innovative small molecule drug conjugates.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS, PHARMACY MARKET

Novo Nordisk & ATLATL announce winners in their joint program EntreStar

Novo Nordisk & ATLATL | December 06, 2022

Novo Nordisk Research Centre China and ATLATL jointly announce the winners of EntreStar program. Hangzhou DNano MetaBio and Modit Medicine stood out among all participants and won the awards. The two winners will be given priority access to one of ATLATL’s nation-wide facilities in China, and a prize of CNY 500K RMB each to pay for the ATLATL facilities and services. They are also entitled to mentoring by relevant experts of Novo Nordisk. There will be no strings attached for the two companies. Founded in 2022, Hangzhou DNano MetaBio Technology has been focusing on the design of nucleic acid nanocarriers with customized functions and great potential in clinical translation. The team has rich experience in nucleic acid structure design, which enables them to accurately regulate the organ-targeting ability and the on-demand drug release performance of the nanocarriers. “It’s our great honour to participate in EntreStar. We look forward to exploring collaboration opportunities with the community. Meanwhile, it is very much appreciated that we can receive guidance and help from Novo Nordisk’s experts in relevant fields, so that our company can develop in a healthy way.” Dr. Baoquan DING, President & Chief Scientist of DNano expressed his hopes in the award ceremony, Modit Medicine Inc., founded in 2022, is a biotech company focusing on RNA editing and therapeutics. The company owns cutting-edge and propriety RNA modification and editing methodologies and is devoted to the development of novel platform technologies. Instead of manipulating DNA sequences, technologies of Modit Medicine Inc. correct genetic errors at the RNA level, thereby providing opportunities for safe, efficacious and innovative therapeutics to treat human rare diseases, cancers, etc. Dr. Chengqi YI, Founder of Modit Medicine and Boya Professor of Peking University, commented on his participation, “By participating in the EntreStar program, Modit Medicine Inc. hopes to learn from global pharma about their insights on technology platform and marketing strategies in gene therapy, as well as to seek and form potential collaborations with Novo Nordisk. We also appreciate advice and suggestions from ATLATL about useful tips for start-up companies to connect with government and industry.” Dr. Dan HAN, President of NNRCC, shared her remarks: “We see great potential in the novel concepts proposed by DNano and Modit. By leveraging knowledge and experiences in our global organisation, we hope that Novo Nordisk can help pushing their research projects forward more effectively. As a Novo Nordisk affiliate in China, we partner with brilliant minds via INNOVO® program to facilitate translational research, with EntreStar initiative as its latest addition.” Dr. Pengcheng ZHU, Founder of ATLATL Innovation Center, commented on the role ATLATL plays: “It is my greatest pleasure to help make the EntreStar winners thrive at ATLATL’s platform, with access to global resources, such as our partners like Novo Nordisk. The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for the life sciences. We streamline the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization, and revolutionize the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. I am looking forward to collaborating with even more leading biopharmaceuticals and bringing success to these talented people.” About Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 49,300 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. Novo Nordisk Research Centre China founded in 1997, takes pride in being the first research centre established by a multinational pharmaceutical company in China. With a focus on protein and peptide therapeutics, NNRCC has full capabilities and rich experiences in drug discovery research. About ATLATL The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for global life sciences. ATLATL streamlines the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization and revolutionizes the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. This much more time and cost-efficient model originated in Boston and continues to be optimized from 2017 onwards in China. ATLATL provides not only state-of-the-art facilities and professional operational management but also many R&D platforms staffed with scientists and project managers specializing in various fields. By collaborating with leading biopharma ATLATL integrates global resources to stimulate innovative developments. ATLATL currently has R&D platforms in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, etc., leveraging the uniqueness of each site to help innovators quickly reach the next milestone.

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