Paul Diaz, Myriad Genetics president and CEO

A ge­net­ics test­ing out­fit is bail­ing on its CRO ser­vices, choos­ing in­stead to re­fo­cus around pre­ci­sion drugs

In the past few months, there’s been a string of con­sol­i­da­tion in the CRO space, with big play­ers merg­ing to­geth­er and head­line names in con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing snap­ping up re­search teams. But a Texas ge­net­ics play­er is now go­ing the oth­er way, bail­ing on its CRO of­fer­ings to in­stead fo­cus on pre­ci­sion med­i­cine.

Salt Lake City-based Myr­i­ad is sell­ing its Austin con­tract re­search lab to North Car­oli­na’s Q2 So­lu­tions, the com­pa­ny said Mon­day. The deal is ex­pect­ed to be closed in Q3 and will al­low Myr­i­ad to fo­cus ef­forts on women’s health, on­col­o­gy and men­tal health, CEO Paul Di­az said in a press re­lease.

“Our agree­ment with Q2 So­lu­tions pro­vides a good home for Myr­i­ad RBM team­mates, de­liv­ers strong val­ue, and pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal for fu­ture growth,” Di­az said in the re­lease.

It’s the first of three planned busi­ness unit sales for Myr­i­ad, which hopes to rake in up to $375 mil­lion all told. The com­pa­ny re­port­ed a $173 mil­lion in­crease in rev­enue in its Q1 re­port ear­li­er in May, and saw its stock jump up soon af­ter.That came on the heels of a slow Q4  shares tum­ble 34% af­ter post­ing dis­ap­point­ing re­sults and ini­tial 2020 guid­ance.

Myr­i­ad has pro­vid­ed re­searchers with quan­ti­ta­tive da­ta on the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic in ar­eas such as cy­tokine storm test­ing, mul­ti­plex serol­o­gy and T cell re­sponse, the firm said in a re­lease. The pan­dem­ic proved lu­cra­tive for Myr­i­ad af­ter the com­pa­ny post­ed a poor Q4 2019 with stocks dip­ping 34% and rev­enue guid­ance lag­ging.

Just four days ago, the Myr­i­ad ap­point­ed Melis­sa Gon­za­les to be pres­i­dent of its women’s health busi­ness. A 20-year vet­er­an of the field, she is now re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing pa­tients with ge­net­ic tests that help women as­sess their risk of hered­i­tary can­cer and pro­vide in­sights dur­ing preg­nan­cy.

The com­pa­ny dis­cov­ers and com­mer­cial­izes tests that de­ter­mine the risk of de­vel­op­ing dis­ease, as­sess the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion and guide treat­ments in spaces in which ge­net­ic in­sight can both im­prove pa­tient care and low­er costs, Myr­i­ad said.

Much like the CD­MO space, CRO has been a hot area of in­vest­ment in re­cent months as big play­ers have looked to spend their healthy cash re­serves. On the high end of the spec­trum, Ther­mo Fish­er Sci­en­tif­ic un­veiled a $17.4 bil­lion plan to buy out CRO gi­ant PPD back in April, look­ing to boost its own con­tract re­search of­fer­ings.

Just weeks be­fore, ICON and PRA Health Sci­ences — the fifth and sixth biggest CROs in the space — un­corked a $12 bil­lion merg­er deal that will make them the sec­ond largest firm be­hind IQVIA. The deal is ex­pect­ed to close in the third quar­ter of 2021.

Un­lock­ing ESG strate­gies for growth with Gilead Sci­ences

RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

On the hunt for the next Mod­er­na, in­vestors have pumped 'plat­form plays' with cash. Can any­thing slow the run­away train?

It didn’t take an expert to see that mRNA platforms could be huge.

Julie Sunderland partnered with both Moderna and BioNTech about a decade ago while she was running program-related investments for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — and even then the potential for their platforms was obvious despite some well-founded concerns about whether the next-gen tech would ever cross the finish line.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) with reporters in the Senate Subway (Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)

Top Wyden pri­or­i­ty for drug price re­forms: Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tions

As the Biden administration tries to wrangle the details of its infrastructure bill, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) took a concrete step forward on drug pricing reforms on Tuesday and unveiled five principles for such reforms, including providing Medicare with the ability to negotiate prices.

“Allowing the Secretary of HHS to negotiate the price Medicare will pay creates a much needed mechanism to achieve fairer prices when the market has failed to do so,” Wyden wrote.

Pier Vincenzo Colli, Alfasigma CEO (C. Romagnoli, Alfasigma archive)

Al­fasig­ma snares EU rights to blood clot­ting an­ti­body on the hunt for pa­tients tak­ing As­traZeneca's Bril­in­ta

Two years after Phase I data generated promise for bentracimab as the first drug to stop bleeding in patients that were prescribed AstraZeneca’s much-hyped stroke and heart attack drug Brilinta, PhaseBio has licensed it out to a European partner.

PhaseBio sold European rights for the uncontrolled bleeding monoclonal antibody to Italian biotech Alfasigma. That company will market the drug in 49 countries across Europe and other markets, PhaseBio said in a press release.

Kimberly Smith, ViiV via Youtube

They went from dai­ly to once every two months. But how much longer act­ing can HIV meds be? Vi­iV en­lists Halozyme's tech to find out

It wasn’t easy navigating the manufacturing and controls issues that had led the FDA to reject ViiV Healthcare’s first pitch for the once-monthly HIV regimen cabotegravir and rilpivirine. But even as Kimberly Smith was knee-deep in sorting out those problems and putting together a new package that finally won the regulators over this January, her business development team kept looking for things that would take them to the next level.

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Roche's Alzheimer's drug spurred bio­mark­er changes but no cog­ni­tive im­pact — pa­per; vTv out-li­cens­es for­mer lead pro­gram

More than a year ago, Roche and Eli Lilly were forced to contend with a Phase II/III failure of their respective Alzheimer’s drugs. But while Eli Lilly essentially threw in the towels, Roche wasn’t ready to give up yet.

The Swiss drugmaker now has some biomarker data to spotlight as investigators continue monitoring patients in an open-label extension study.

Dubbed DIAN-TU, the study had been designed to see whether Roche’s gantenerumab and Lilly’s solanezumab could spur a cognitive benefit for a group of patients who had a rare, inherited form of Alzheimer’s that’d tied to early-onset. In short, they didn’t: Both failed the primary endpoint.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Mer­ck­'s Keytru­da blazes a path in first-line cer­vi­cal can­cer, mak­ing good on drug­mak­er's push for ear­li­er pa­tients

In the years since I/O wonder drug Keytruda’s initial approval, Merck has struck an aggressive clinical trial program, which is now firmly focused on earlier lines of therapy. The drugmaker has scored some success there so far, and now it’s earned one of its biggest wins yet.

Keytruda plus chemotherapy with or without background Avastin significantly extended patients’ lives over those dosed with a placebo control in first-line patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, according to top-line data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-826 study revealed Tuesday.

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End­points News is now 5 years old. Here's how you can sup­port us for the next phase of growth

Endpoints News turned five years old over the weekend. I wanted to mark the happy occasion by extending our deepest gratitude to Endpoints’ premium subscribers while outlining several other ways to support us as we go broader and get bigger this year and beyond.

Same as any business, we’ve got to create value and get paid for delivering it. So if you depend on Endpoints to stay abreast on biopharma developments, we depend on you too.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Credit: Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Ac­tivist in­vestor El­liott in talks with oth­er Glax­o­SmithK­line in­vestors about re­plac­ing Em­ma Walm­s­ley, spin­ning off vac­cine busi­ness — re­port

As Emma Walmsley reveals details this Wednesday about the upcoming split of GlaxoSmithKline’s pharma and consumer units, some tough questions may be coming her way.

Elliott Management, the activist investor that’s previously threatened an attack on GSK (but eventually backed off), is floating more radical changes like replacing the CEO, further breaking up the company and spinning out the vaccine unit, or reviewing the focus on cancer drugs, the Financial Times reported.

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