Ab­b­Vie of­floads UK site for $119M in sale to Chi­nese cell and gene ther­a­py play­er Phar­maron

With its Al­ler­gan buy­out now long in the books, Ab­b­Vie has been tak­ing a hard look at its sud­den­ly ex­pan­sive glob­al ops to find space for a deal. Now, work­ing with a Chi­nese cell and gene ther­a­py play­er hun­gry for more el­bow room abroad, Ab­b­Vie has tak­en one UK fa­cil­i­ty off its books.

Ab­b­Vie has of­floaded its Liv­er­pool man­u­fac­tur­ing site as part of a $118.7 mil­lion sale to Chi­nese cell and gene ther­a­py play­er Phar­maron, which is pitch­ing the pur­chase as the next step in its glob­al ex­pan­sion plans, the com­pa­nies said last week.

The Ab­b­Vie site — pre­vi­ous­ly op­er­at­ed by Al­ler­gan pri­or to the two drug­mak­ers’ $63 bil­lion merg­er — has been in op­er­a­tion since 2007 and em­ploys rough­ly 150 work­ers, Phar­maron said. The deal is ex­pect­ed to close in Q2.

Giv­en the sheer size of Ab­b­Vie and Al­ler­gan’s merg­er, a de­gree of syn­er­gy — and there­fore as­set sales — are ex­pect­ed. But the sale to Phar­maron could put those 150 jobs at risk. The com­pa­ny didn’t spec­i­fy in its re­lease whether it in­tend­ed to keep those staff on board.

For Phar­maron, the ac­qui­si­tion will help flesh out its end-to-end man­u­fac­tur­ing ser­vices in cell and gene ther­a­pies, one of the hottest mar­kets in all of bio­phar­ma. In No­vem­ber, the CD­MO pur­chased US non-clin­i­cal CRO out­fit Ab­sorp­tion Sys­tems to bol­ster its R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Ab­sorp­tion spe­cial­ized in DMPK/ADME and bio­analy­sis for both small and large mol­e­cules, par­tic­u­lar­ly in trans­porters, hu­man PK pre­dic­tion and trans­la­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­tics, Phar­maron said.

The cell and gene ther­a­py space has been a hotbed of in­vest­ment in re­cent years, and that trend has con­tin­ued in­to 2021.

Ear­li­er this week, Bio­gen an­nounced its plans to add a $200 mil­lion fa­cil­i­ty to its sprawl­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing cam­pus­es in Re­search Tri­an­gle Park. Blue­print­ed for a 2023 start date, Bio­gen is build­ing a 175,000-square-foot fa­cil­i­ty that glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing chief Nicole Mur­phy says will fit the bill on 3 key as­pects: dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed, sus­tain­able and ad­vanced.

The week pri­or, Swiss CD­MO Celonic un­veiled plans to build a 91,500-square-foot man­u­fac­tur­ing cen­ter fo­cused on cell and gene ther­a­pies, next-gen vac­cines and oth­er “in­no­v­a­tive” drugs as part of a two-part ex­pan­sion at No­var­tis’ Rhine Val­ley hub. The ex­pan­sion will add rough­ly 250 work­ers at the site, Celonic said, as well as up to 20 man­u­fac­tur­ing clean rooms, and lab and of­fice space. The fa­cil­i­ty is set to open in Q2 2022, Celonic said.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Governor John Carney, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Mayor Kenneth Branner, Jr., Delaware Prosperity Partnership President Kurt Foreman, WuXi AppTec Chairman and CEO Ge Li, WuXi AppTec Co-CEO and WuXi STA CEO Minzhang Chen, and others celebrate the groundbreaking for the WuXi STA Middletown campus.

WuXi breaks ground on Delaware fa­cil­i­ty, boost­ing its US pres­ence

While Middletown, Delaware’s main claim to fame was the site location for the film the Dead Poets Society, the city will soon play host to a massive manufacturing outfit.

WuXi AppTec’s contract research and manufacturing subsidiary WuXi STA, has broken ground on a 190-acre manufacturing campus in Middletown.

According to the company, this site will be WuXi’s second facility in the US, and it will create around 500 full-time jobs by 2026, but there are plans to kick off operations in 2025.

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

As the ink dries on CSL’s $11.7 billion Vifor buyout, the company posted a dip in profits, due in part to a drop in plasma donations amid the pandemic.

However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.