Drug Development, Protocols

Protocols: Novo chief Sørensen is handing over the reins early; Cytokinetics moves Amgen-partnered heart drug into PhIII

Lars Rebien Sørensen

Lars Rebien Sørensen

Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen wasn’t your typical pharma CEO. Confident in his company’s abilities, he also wasn’t too thin skinned about potential market threats. He told me back in 2014 that he thought Eli Lilly’s dulaglutide was “a good product,” even as he braced for a market showdown. Now after 16 years at the helm Sørensen says he’s leaving Novo Nordisk, ahead of schedule. The company has been feeling the heat from an intensely competitive field, where each new advance is greeted with head-on rivals from a group of key players that includes Sanofi and Lilly. His replacement will be EVP and chief of corporate development Lars Fruergaard Joergensen. And don’t look for any dramatic changes from the market leader in diabetes. “You should not expect massive changes when I take over Jan. 1,” Joergensen told reporters. “We have a robust strategy, and the team to execute on that strategy.”

Cytokinetics is moving omecamtiv mecarbil — which is partnered with Amgen — into Phase III. The heart drug is a cardiac myosin activator, designed to enhance cardiac function. And as part of Amgen’s collaboration with France’s Servier, the French company is paying $10 million to Amgen to grab certain marketing rights to the heart drug.

Amgen, meanwhile, is reeling in an early-stage bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) that targets B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), a potential target for multiple myeloma. The big biotech gained global rights to BI 836908 (AMG 420), which Micromet had outlicensed to Boehringer Ingelheim before Amgen swooped in and bought Micromet four years ago. No financial details were released.

GenVec wants everyone to know that Novartis’ decision to shutter its cell and gene therapy unit won’t affect their collaboration. In an SEC filing, the biotech stated: “Novartis is developing CGF166, GenVec’s lead product candidate for hearing loss, under a Research Collaboration and License Agreement between the two parties.  Novartis has informed GenVec that it remains engaged on the CGF166 program and that Novartis’s internal changes are not expected or intended to reduce its support for the program.”

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