Af­ter fruit­less talks, a bid from Vas and plen­ty of pa­tience, AveX­is CEO Sean Nolan slow­ly reeled in an $8.7B deal

AveX­is CEO Sean Nolan

Some­times, it pays to be pa­tient. In Sean Nolan’s case, it was per­son­al­ly worth tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.

Af­ter watch­ing the cork bob in the wa­ter for months, the AveX­is CEO got his first hard strike on June 29 last year when an ad­mir­er of­fered to buy the com­pa­ny for $112 a share, with a mix of cash and stock.

He and the board threw it right back, even though his own stock was trad­ing at that time for $81.69.

The bio­phar­ma, iden­ti­fied in a re­cent SEC fil­ing as Com­pa­ny B, wasn’t done. A $118 of­fer was fol­lowed by $130, and by the end of Ju­ly, they were in to con­duct due dili­gence.

It didn’t go any­where, though, with Com­pa­ny B walk­ing away in Au­gust, un­able to put a deal to­geth­er. And that’s some­thing that Nolan prob­a­bly laughs about these days.

Vas­ant Narasimhan, No­var­tis

In the com­ing months, AveX­is shares would surge as it be­came clear that the FDA would be will­ing to con­sid­er very ear­ly-stage da­ta on its gene ther­a­py for spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy, a po­ten­tial ground­break­er in that field. And on Feb­ru­ary 16, af­ter the top BD guys at No­var­tis had be­gun talks about an al­liance, the new­ly pro­mot­ed CEO Vas Narasimhan jumped on the phone and of­fered Nolan $190 a share.

Nolan de­murred, but al­lowed that he was in­ter­est­ed.

There were plen­ty more com­mu­ni­ca­tions — even a sud­den ap­pear­ance by “Com­pa­ny C” which end­ed up of­fer­ing $185 with an in­tent to find some added val­ue. But Narasimhan got what he want­ed when he hiked No­var­tis bid to $218, with a sweet­en­er to $225 if No­var­tis has to ex­tend the of­fer.

Suku­mar Na­gen­dran

They closed on April 6 at $8.7 bil­lion, with an 88% pre­mi­um on the shares and close to twice the first bid made by Com­pa­ny B.

Nolan’s ex­it pack­age is worth $64.5 mil­lion.

Chief Med­ical Of­fi­cer Suku­mar Na­gen­dran gets $23.4 mil­lion.

James L’Ital­ien, the chief reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer, gets $19 mil­lion.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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Mark Iwicki, Kala Pharmaceuticals CEO (Merus)

Al­con takes a crack at multi­bil­lion-dol­lar dry eye mar­ket, picks up 2 drugs from Langer spin­out

Kala Pharmaceuticals may have never come close to the blockbuster dreams it had for its dry eye disease treatment, but Alcon wants to see if it can take the drug further.

After giving commercialization its best shot over the past few years, Kala decided the marketing game is not for it after all. Instead, it will sell both of its commercial eye drop products — Eysuvis for dry eye disease, and Inveltys for post-operative inflammation and pain following ocular surgery — to Alcon for $60 million in cash, plus an undisclosed amount of milestones.

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Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

West Vir­ginia man faces prison time for threat­en­ing emails to Fau­ci, oth­er health of­fi­cials

NIAID director Anthony Fauci gained hero status amid the pandemic, earning Americans’ trust and even Time magazine’s Guardian of the Year title. But he and other federal health officials have also faced intense threats, according to charges brought by the US Department of Justice.

A West Virginia man is facing up to 10 years in prison after threatening Fauci, former NIH director Francis Collins, and HHS assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine via email, the DOJ said on Monday. Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., pleaded guilty on Monday to using an anonymous email address to threaten the officials for performing their official duties, including discussing Covid-19 testing and prevention.

Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Charles Krupa/AP Images)

Mod­er­na chief Ban­cel to do­nate about $355M worth of ear­ly stock to char­i­ty

Four days ago, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel was made a Chevalier — basically knighted — in his home country of France. And now the billionaire CEO said he will exercise and donate about  $355 million in stock options.

Bancel announced early Tuesday via a blog post that he and his wife Brenda will be donating the after-tax proceeds of his original stock options to charity — the stock options Bancel was granted back in 2013 after he became CEO, two years after he first joined the mRNA specialist outfit.

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Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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David Sinclair, Genocea Biosciences co-founder (Alpha Wave Global)

Geno­cea reach­es end of road, delist­ing from Nas­daq and let­ting go of re­main­ing staff

A pivot into neoantigen immunotherapies was not enough to save Genocea Biosciences after all.

The 16-year-old biotech said it would be closing down and laying off all remaining employees “except those deemed necessary to complete an orderly wind down” of operations. It has also delivered a formal notice to Nasdaq, notifying the stock exchange of its intent to delist voluntarily.

The move comes a month after Genocea laid off 75% of its workforce and revealed it’s looking for strategic alternatives, such as a sale, merger or reverse merger. At the end of 2021, it had 74 employees.

Michael Corbo, Pfizer CDO of inflammation & immunology

UP­DAT­ED: Plan­ning ahead for crowd­ed ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis mar­ket, Pfiz­er spells out PhI­II da­ta on $6.7B Are­na drug

Pfizer has laid out the detailed results behind its boast that etrasimod — the S1P receptor modulator at the center of its $6.7 billion buyout of Arena Pharma — is the winner of the class, potentially leapfrogging an earlier entrant from Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pivotal data from the ELEVATE program in ulcerative colitis — which consists of two Phase III trials, one lasting 52 weeks and the other just 12 weeks — illustrate an “encouraging balance of efficacy and safety,” according to Michael Corbo, chief development officer of inflammation & immunology at Pfizer. The company is presenting the results as a late breaker at Digestive Disease Week.

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