Af­ter talk­ing to Trump about top FDA job, Bal­a­ji Srini­vasan erased his barbed crit­i­cism of the drug agency

Bit­coin en­tre­pre­neur and close Pe­ter Thiel as­so­ciate Bal­a­ji Srini­vasan has long en­joyed tak­ing to Twit­ter to poke the FDA for be­ing too slow at ap­prov­ing new ther­a­pies. By his ac­count, the agency was guilty of con­sid­er­able harm. But late Fri­day night, af­ter news of his meet­ing on Thurs­day with Don­ald Trump for a top job at the agency spread like dig­i­tal wild­fire, his Twit­ter stream and FDA com­men­tary all dis­ap­peared in the blink of an eye.

Now there’s just one re­mark on dis­play.

 

You can still find sam­ples of his thoughts from re­porters pre­scient enough to grab them. Don­na Young at S&P Glob­al cit­ed these on Fri­day:

  • “For every thalido­mide though, many dead from slowed ap­provals.”
  • “Be­fore the FDA, sci­en­tists were able to take in­sulin from bench to bed­side in two years.”

This one could come­back to haunt him:

https://twit­ter.com/christapeter­so/sta­tus/820382547490193409

Srini­vasan may not have want­ed all of his tweets to come back for pub­lic dis­cus­sion if Trump breaks with tra­di­tion and goes with a new com­mis­sion­er who is not a doc­tor. Up to now, the smart mon­ey in bio­phar­ma cir­cles had fo­cused on Scott Got­tlieb, who is a physi­cian and has staked out an ac­tivist Re­pub­li­can per­spec­tive on Twit­ter and through nu­mer­ous op-ed pieces.

Srini­vasan is al­so close to Jim O’Neill, an­oth­er Thiel col­league and FDA con­tender who fa­mous­ly said at one time that the FDA should al­low drugs to be mar­ket­ed once they had es­tab­lished their safe­ty, let­ting ef­fi­ca­cy get worked out among the pa­tients. And Thiel him­self, as Young al­so re­port­ed, has been crit­i­cal of the FDA for not be­ing more en­cour­ag­ing to an­ti-ag­ing re­search.

All three, Srini­vasan, O’Neill and Thiel, have backed seast­eading, a fringe ef­fort aimed at sup­port­ing the de­vel­op­ment of in­de­pen­dent com­mu­ni­ties at sea — far from any gov­ern­ment over­sight and bu­reau­crat­ic en­tan­gle­ments.

One of them may get to see how the same at­ti­tude could play out with the au­thor­i­ty to run the FDA.

Trump him­self re­mains a reg­u­lar on Twit­ter, hap­py to stake out some con­tro­ver­sial po­si­tions. He’s al­ready made it clear that he in­tends to get drugs through the ap­proval process faster. And as of last week’s press con­fer­ence, you can add an out­spo­ken po­si­tion on us­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to rein in drug prices af­ter phar­ma com­pa­nies got “away with mur­der.”

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

Sanjiv Patel, Relay CEO

Re­lay reaps $400M IPO wind­fall af­ter draw­ing the cur­tain on mo­tion-based drug de­sign pipeline

A red-hot venture market back in 2018 propelled Relay Therapeutics to a whopping $400 million crossover round. And now, the biotech is riding on a red-hot IPO market to a public debut that brought in the same exact amount.

The $400 million raise breaks down to 20 million shares sold at $20 each — above even the amended proposed range of $16 to $18.

It’s also double what Relay had penciled in with the initial S-1 filing, in yet another illustration that those figures are often nothing more than a placeholder these days.

BioAt­la rakes in $72.5M Se­ries D, ad­vanc­ing re­search for pH-de­tect­ing can­cer treat­ments

A little over a year after agreeing to a worldwide collaboration with hefty Chinese biotech BeiGene worth up to $270 million, BioAtla is ready for another haul.

The San Diego-based biotech pulled in a $72.5 million haul for their Series D financing, which the company announced Wednesday. Funds will go toward their four main clinical programs developing cancer treatments, two of which are currently in Phase II, BioAtla president and former Celgene COO Scott Smith said.

Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca R&D chief (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

A day af­ter Mod­er­na vac­cine re­sults, ru­mors swirl of pend­ing As­traZeneca da­ta

A day after Moderna and the NIH published much-anticipated data from their Phase I Covid-19 vaccine trial, attention is turning to AstraZeneca which, according to a UK report, is expected to publish its own early data tomorrow.

ITV’s Robert Peston reported that AstraZeneca will publish the Phase I data in The Lancet. 

AstraZeneca and Moderna represent the two most ambitious Covid-19 vaccine efforts, having set the quickest timelines for approval (though they were recently joined in that regard by the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership) and some of the loftiest goals in total doses. Yet there is even less known about AstraZeneca’s vaccine’s effect on humans than there was about Moderna’s before yesterday. Although, in a controversial move, Moderna released some statistics from its Phase I in May, AstraZeneca has yet to say anything about what it saw in its Phase I trial — a move consistent with the scientific convention to withhold data until it can be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

‘Plan­ning to vac­ci­nate every­one in the US,’ Mod­er­na out­lines ef­forts to sup­ply their Covid-19 vac­cine as man­u­fac­tur­ing ramps up ahead of PhI­II

Twelve days from the planned start of their Phase III pivotal trial, the executive crew at Moderna has set up the manufacturing base needed to begin production of the first 500,000 doses of their Covid-19 vaccine with plans to feed it into a global supply chain. But the initial batches will likely be ready in the US first, where company CEO Stéphane Bancel plans to be able to vaccinate everyone.

“We have started making commercial product at-risk, and will continue to do so every day and every week of the month,” Bancel told analysts during their morning call on the Phase I data just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Covid-19 roundup: Vac­cine by end of 2020? Ken Fra­zier warns hype do­ing 'grave dis­ser­vice'

When it comes to setting expectations about a Covid-19 vaccine, Ken Frazier does not mince words.

Over a month after first casting doubts on the aggressive 12- to 18-month timeframe championed by the US government and his biopharma peers, the Merck CEO again cautioned against any hype around a quick vaccine approval.

In a wide-ranging interview with Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley that touched other big topics such as race, Frazier emphasized that vaccines take a long time to develop. He would know: Out of the seven new vaccines introduced around the world in the past 25 years, four came from Merck.

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Jeff Albers, Blueprint CEO

Di­ag­nos­tic champ Roche buys its way in­to the RET ti­tle fight with Eli Lil­ly, pay­ing $775M in cash to Blue­print

When Roche spelled out its original $1 billion deal — $45 million of that upfront — with Blueprint to discover targeted therapies against immunokinases, the biotech partner’s RET program was still preclinical. Four years later, pralsetinib is on the cusp of potential approval and the Swiss pharma giant is putting in much more to get in on the commercial game.

Roche gains rights to co-develop and co-commercialize the drug, with sole marketing responsibility for places outside the US and China (where CStone has staked its claim).

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