A bruised Eli Lil­ly buys rights to Cen­trex­ion's ear­ly-stage pain drug for $47.5M up­front

Eli Lil­ly is work­ing on putting its woes in the rearview mir­ror. In re­cent months, a late-stage fail­ure trig­gered the with­draw­al of its can­cer drug Lartru­vo, the US drug­mak­er rel­e­gat­ed two mid-stage drugs to the scrap heap, and Japan flagged safe­ty con­cerns as­so­ci­at­ed with its breast can­cer treat­ment, Verzenio.

On Tues­day, the US drug­mak­er said it was ac­quir­ing the rights to an ex­per­i­men­tal ear­ly-stage non-opi­oid pain drug from Cen­trex­ion for $47.5 mil­lion up­front. The Boston-based com­pa­ny ac­quired the chron­ic pain drug CN­TX-0290 — a small mol­e­cule so­mato­statin re­cep­tor type 4 (SSTR4) ag­o­nist — from Boehringer In­gel­heim in 2016.

Af­ter kick­ing off the year with a bang with $8 bil­lion agree­ment to buy Loxo, in a deal forged in 10 days, things for Lil­ly $LLY have on­ly gone south. Last month, the com­pa­ny slashed its 2019 fore­cast by $3 bil­lion — re­flect­ing the Elan­co An­i­mal Health spin off — and is in des­per­ate need for as­sets to im­prove its pipeline and prospects.

Apart from the is­sues out­lined above, Lil­ly is al­so strug­gling on the R&D side. Ear­li­er this year, re­searchers re­newed safe­ty fears about its once-tout­ed block­buster con­tender tanezum­ab and the larg­er an­ti-NGF pain drug class; the com­pa­ny aban­doned a mid-stage BTK in­hibitor, shrug­ging off a $690 mil­lion pact for the im­munol­o­gy drug — in-li­censed from Ko­rea’s Han­mi three years ago; part­ner In­cyte $IN­CY halt­ed all fur­ther R&D in­vest­ments in Olu­mi­ant, a JAK in­hibitor that bare­ly man­aged an FDA ap­proval, with a low­er dose than Lil­ly had ad­vo­cat­ed for af­ter reg­u­la­tors raised se­ri­ous safe­ty con­cerns about the drug — and the class; and then there’s the Alzheimer’s drug solanezum­ab, which has failed three piv­otal pro­grams but is still mar­i­nat­ing in late-stage de­vel­op­ment, de­spite most ob­servers hav­ing writ­ten it off as col­lat­er­al dam­age in the all-but-dead amy­loid be­ta hy­poth­e­sis.

Lil­ly’s ex­ist­ing drugs aren’t in the best shape ei­ther. The com­pa­ny is fac­ing fierce pres­sure to rein in the prices of its ar­se­nal of di­a­betes drugs, while its erec­tile dys­func­tion treat­ment Cialis is be­ing eat­en up by gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion.

Jef­frey Kindler Linkedin

In the deal an­nounced on Tues­day, Cen­trex­ion may be el­i­gi­ble for up to $575 mil­lion in po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment and reg­u­la­to­ry mile­stones. If CN­TX-0290 is ap­proved, Cen­trex­ion could get an­oth­er $375 mil­lion in po­ten­tial sales mile­stones and tiered roy­al­ties.

The pri­vate­ly-held com­pa­ny, led by for­mer Pfiz­er $PFE chief Jef­frey Kindler, re­port­ed­ly post­poned its plans for a $75 mil­lion IPO last No­vem­ber. Its lead drug, CN­TX-4975, is in late-stage de­vel­op­ment. The ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment is a man-made ver­sion of chili plant ex­tract trans-cap­saicin and is de­signed to work by in­ac­ti­vat­ing lo­cal pain fibers trans­mit­ting sig­nals to the brain.


Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.


Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.


Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Savara shares are crushed as PhI­II tri­al flunks pri­ma­ry, key sec­on­daries — but they can’t stop be­liev­ing

In­vestors are in no mood to hear biotechs tout the suc­cess of a “key” sec­ondary end­point when the piv­otal Phase III flunks the pri­ma­ry goal. Just ask Savara. 

The Texas biotech $SVRA went look­ing for a sil­ver lin­ing as com­pa­ny ex­ecs blunt­ly con­ced­ed that Mol­gradex, an in­haled for­mu­la­tion of re­com­bi­nant hu­man gran­u­lo­cyte-macrophage colony-stim­u­lat­ing fac­tor (GM-CSF), failed to spur sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­proved treat­ment out­comes for pa­tients with a rare res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease called au­toim­mune pul­monary alve­o­lar pro­teinosis, or aPAP.

As an­oth­er an­tibi­otics biotech sinks in­to a cri­sis, warn­ings of a sec­tor ‘col­lapse’

Another antibiotics company is scrambling to survive today, forcing the company’s founding CEO to exit in a reorganization that eliminates its research capabilities as the survivors look to improve on minuscule sales of their newly approved treatment. And the news — on top of an alarming series of failures — spurred at least one figure in the field to warn of a looming collapse of the antimicrobial resistance research field.

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'We kept at it': Jef­frey Blue­stone plots late-stage come­back af­ter teplizum­ab shown to de­lay type 1 di­a­betes

Late-stage da­ta pre­sent­ed at the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion an­nu­al meet­ing in 2010 pushed Eli Lil­ly to put a crimp on teplizum­ab as the phar­ma gi­ant found it un­able to re­set the clock on new­ly di­ag­nosed type 1 di­a­betes. At the same con­fer­ence but in dif­fer­ent hands nine years lat­er, the drug is mak­ing a crit­i­cal come­back by scor­ing suc­cess in an­oth­er niche: de­lay­ing the on­set of the dis­ease.

In a Phase II tri­al with 76 high-risk in­di­vid­u­als — rel­a­tives of pa­tients with type 1 di­a­betes who have di­a­betes-re­lat­ed au­toan­ti­bod­ies in their bod­ies — teplizum­ab al­most dou­bled the me­di­an time of di­ag­no­sis com­pared to place­bo (48.4 months ver­sus 24.4 months). The haz­ard ra­tio for di­ag­no­sis was 0.41 (p=0.006).

Adding mar­quee in­vestors, Black­Thorn bags $76M to back an AI-dri­ven strat­e­gy for pre­ci­sion neu­ro med­i­cine

As ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing loom ever larg­er in drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, a biotech op­er­at­ing at the “nexus” of tech­nol­o­gy and neu­ro­sciences has cashed in with $76 mil­lion in fresh fi­nanc­ing.

The big idea at Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics is to do for neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­ders what ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­py has done for on­col­o­gy: Re­de­fine pa­tient pop­u­la­tions by the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy — dys­reg­u­lat­ed brain cir­cuits, or neu­rotypes — in­stead of symp­toms, there­by find­ing the pa­tients who are most like­ly to ben­e­fit at en­roll­ment phase.