A uni­corn stalks Wall Street in search of IPO cash; CASI Phar­ma in-li­cens­es CD19 ther­a­py from Chi­na’s Ju­ven­tas

A herd of up­start biotechs will look to Wall Street for some ma­jor wind­falls this week as a burst of new of­fer­ings con­tin­ues to feed cash in­to the R&D sys­tem. To­day we learned that Bridge­Bio will look to raise in the neigh­bor­hood of $225 mil­lion by of­fer­ing 15 mil­lion shares for $14 to $16 each. And they have a string of joint bookrun­ners: J.P. Mor­gan, Gold­man Sachs, Jef­feries, SVB Leerink, KKR, Piper Jaf­fray, Mizuho Se­cu­ri­ties, BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets and Ray­mond James. If suc­cess­ful, Bridge­Bio will emerge with a mar­ket cap of around $1.7 bil­lion. There are 5 biotechs look­ing to IPO this week, in­clud­ing Akero and Pre­vail.

Rockville, MD-based CASI Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has in-li­censed an an­ti-CD19 T cell ther­a­py from Chi­na’s Ju­ven­tas. CASI is mak­ing an $11.6 mil­lion in­vest­ment in Ju­ven­tas in lieu of an up­front pay­ment. They’ll joint­ly con­tin­ue the de­vel­op­ment work.

Flex Phar­ma is hav­ing a lit­tle bit of trou­ble in ex­e­cut­ing its re­verse merg­er deal with Salarius Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. The failed biotech $FLKS says it needs to see more votes cast by share­hold­ers af­ter fail­ing to achieve a quo­rum — in per­son or proxy — at a spe­cial meet­ing. Its be­lea­guered shares dropped 24% to a mere 49 cents in pre-mar­ket trad­ing on Mon­day.

Ar­bu­tus Bio­phar­ma tapped William Col­lier as its next pres­i­dent and CEO. Col­lier suc­ceeds Mark Mur­ray, who is re­tir­ing on June 23. Col­lier has had over 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try. He served as pres­i­dent and gen­er­al man­ag­er, North Amer­i­ca at Vi­iV Health­care, in ad­di­tion to a stint at GSK $GSK as well. 

→ Med­ical ge­net­ics com­pa­ny, In­vi­tae Cor­po­ra­tion, is set to ac­quire Sin­gu­lar Bio to help in­crease ac­cess to ge­net­ic screen­ing in ear­ly preg­nan­cy. Sin­gu­lar Bio is “a pri­vate­ly held com­pa­ny de­vel­op­ing sin­gle mol­e­cule de­tec­tion tech­nol­o­gy that en­ables low­er costs and ex­pand­ed use of high-qual­i­ty, cell-free nu­cle­ic acid analy­sis, ini­tial­ly for ap­pli­ca­tion in non-in­va­sive pre­na­tal screen­ing (NIPS).”

In­cyte $IN­CY on Sat­ur­day pre­sent­ed 24-week re­sults from a mid-stage study of its JAK in­hibitor rux­oli­tinib, which showed the drug met the main goal of in­duc­ing ≥50% im­prove­ment in the fa­cial vi­tili­go. “This 24-week in­ter­val was the first part of a 3-part, 104-week study, and await 52- and 104-week da­ta to con­firm the safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy seen this week­end,” Cred­it Su­isse an­a­lysts wrote in a note. 

Calithera $CALA on Mon­day broke out da­ta from a mid-stage study test­ing its glu­t­a­m­i­nase in­hibitor, tela­gle­na­s­tat, in com­bi­na­tion with chemother­a­py everolimus. The tela­gle­na­s­tat com­bi­na­tion achieved a  me­di­an pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival (mPFS) of 3.8 months, while everolimus-treat­ed pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enced mPFS of 1.9 months. “While the top-line da­ta are en­cour­ag­ing, they do ap­pear to have de­te­ri­o­rat­ed vs. ear­li­er Phase I re­sults,” SVB Leerink an­a­lysts wrote in a note. 

→ A 15-month long sweep­ing in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion en­com­pass­ing more than a mil­lion doc­u­ments, thou­sands of hours of se­cret video sur­veil­lance — in­stalled un­der the aus­pices of for­mer CEO Park­er “Pe­te” Pe­tit — and over 80 wit­ness­es, paint­ed a sor­did pic­ture of the scan­dalous past of the wound care com­pa­ny MiMedx in May. Ear­li­er this month, MiMedx begged its share­hold­ers not to fall for ma­ligned Pe­tit’s bid to re­turn to the com­pa­ny’s board, along with two of his busi­ness as­so­ciates. A pre­lim­i­nary vote count sug­gests stock­hold­ers have lis­tened, the com­pa­ny said on Mon­day.

UP­DAT­ED: Roche bags 'break­through' an­ti-fi­bro­sis drug in $1.4B biotech buy­out deal

Roche is snapping up a “breakthrough” anti-fibrotic drug in a $1.4 billion buyout.

The pharma giant announced Friday that it is acquiring Promedior, primarily to get its hands on PRM-151, a recombinant form of human pentraxin-2 (PTX-2) protein that has nailed down mid-stage clinical data on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and demonstrating its potential for a range of fibrotic conditions.

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Amarin emerges from an ex­pert pan­el re­view with a clear en­dorse­ment for Vas­cepa and high odds of suc­cess when the FDA weighs in for­mal­ly

Several FDA experts who gathered Thursday to consider the landmark approval of Vascepa to reduce cardio events in an at-risk population voiced their unease about various aspects of the efficacy and safety data, or ultimately the population it should be used to treat. But the overwhelming belief that the data pointed to the drug’s benefit and clearly outweighed risks carried the day for Amarin.

The panel voted unanimously (16 to 0) to support the company’s positive data presentation — backing an OK for expanding the label to include reducing cardio risk. The vote points Amarin $AMRN down a short path to a formal decision by the FDA, with the odds heavily in its favor. Chances are the rest of the questions about the future of this drug will be hashed out in the label’s small print.

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Federal Trade Commission commissioner Rohit Chopra testifies on Capitol Hill (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

FTC clears Bris­tol-My­ers’ $74B deal to buy Cel­gene — but Dems sig­nal a po­ten­tial hard shift against Big Phar­ma M&A

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s record $74 billion takeover of Celgene is a done deal. And it will all be over — except for the lingering complaints from die-hard Celgene investors — on Wednesday.

Like much else that’s going on in Washington these days, the vote among the 5 FTC commissioners split along party lines, with the 3 Republicans voting to clear the way and the 2 Democrats steamed over what they see as a major M&A move that will lessen competition and innovation. And that split has big implications for the M&A side of the business if the Dems take the White House in 2020.

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No­var­tis scores its lat­est FDA OK — this time for a new sick­le cell dis­ease drug picked up in a $665M deal

Novartis’ decision to buy Oklahoma-based biotech Selexys 3 years ago for up to $665 million has paid off with an FDA approval today.

Blessed with the FDA’s breakthrough drug designation for a speedy review, the pharma giant has pinned down an approval for crizanlizumab, a new therapy designed to reduce the frequency of painful incidents of vaso-occlusive crises among sickle cell disease patients 16 or older.

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No­var­tis spin­out’s first an­ti-ag­ing PhI­II is a flop, so now they’ll turn to Parkin­son’s chal­lenge as shares wilt

Novartis spinout resTORbio is grappling with the collapse of its lead clinical program this morning — an anti-aging R&D failure that will badly damage their rep in the field.

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BeiGene CEO John Oyler at an Endpoints event in Shanghai, October 2018 (Credit: Endpoints News/PharmCube)

UP­DAT­ED: In a first, FDA green-lights use of a Chi­nese built can­cer ther­a­py — and more are com­ing

Weeks after Amgen took a $2.7 billion stake in BeiGene, the Beijing-based biotech has secured its first-ever FDA approval for zanubrutinib, a BTK inhibitor, months ahead of schedule.

BeiGene’s drug, branded as Brukinsa, has secured accelerated approval for adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) — a typically aggressive, rare, form of blood cancer — who have received at least one prior therapy.

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What does $62B buy you these days? A lot, says Take­da ex­ecs as the phar­ma play­er promis­es a block­buster R&D fu­ture

First comes the $62 billion buyout. Then comes the asset auction and reorganization to pay down debt. Now comes the detailed pledge of a bigger, brighter future in drug development.

That’s where Takeda finds itself on R&D day today, about 11 months after closing on their Shire acquisition. R&D chief Andy Plump is joining CEO Christophe Weber and other top members of the team to outline a new set of priorities in the greatly expanded pipeline at Takeda, which has jumped into the top ranks of the world’s pharma giants in the wake of the Shire deal.

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GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

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Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.

Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

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