Alessan­dro Ri­va ex­its top No­var­tis on­col­o­gy post, heads to a trou­bled — but wealthy — Gilead

Alessan­dro Ri­va

With its pipeline mired in bad da­ta and se­r­i­al set­backs and an­a­lysts de­mand­ing some sort of co­her­ent strate­gic re­sponse to the omi­nous down­turn in its hep C fran­chise, Gilead $GILD has man­aged to re­cruit one of the top names in on­col­o­gy drug de­vel­op­ment to head up its can­cer R&D ef­forts.

Alessan­dro Ri­va is turn­ing in his Big Phar­ma cre­den­tials at No­var­tis $NVS to move in­to the big biotech, which has tak­en a drub­bing at the hands of dis­ap­point­ed an­a­lysts this year.

In the can­cer field, Gilead was forced to halt a slate of 6 stud­ies for Zy­delig in the spring of 2016 due to safe­ty is­sues. And that came af­ter the drug was clear­ly los­ing a race with Im­bru­vi­ca from J&J and Ab­b­Vie on leukemia and lym­phoma. Ab­b­Vie and Roche’s vene­to­clax, mean­while, is ex­pect­ed to gain mar­ket ground in CLL.

Then in No­vem­ber came sub­par da­ta for mo­melo­tinib, which has been strug­gling to dis­tin­guish it­self from Jakafi for myelofi­boris.

Clin­i­cal set­backs, though, are all the rage at Gilead, which has been rack­ing up fail­ures through­out 2016, in­clud­ing 4 straight flops late in the year.

What Gilead does have is cash, and plen­ty of it. Ri­vas may have less to do in the clin­ic right now than at the deal ta­ble, where Gilead may yet spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of its cash re­serves on M&A and li­cens­ing. Gilead clear­ly needs to do more in on­col­o­gy/hema­tol­ogy.

Bri­an Abra­hams at Jef­feries thinks that could be the case. He not­ed:

We be­lieve the rel­a­tive­ly high-pro­file heme/onc chief hire sig­nals an in­creas­ing fo­cus in on­col­o­gy, a wel­come de­vel­op­ment, and ex­pect GILD to more ag­gres­sive­ly pur­sue BD to build out a broad­er can­cer pipeline– some­thing not sub­stan­tial­ly baked in­to most ex­pec­ta­tions but which we be­lieve could help im­prove sen­ti­ment around the name and LT rev­enue prospects. We ex­pect spec­u­lat­ed (s)mid-cap M&A can­di­dates like IN­CY could al­so trade up on this an­nounce­ment.

“I have al­ways ad­mired Gilead for its sci­en­tif­ic fo­cus and da­ta-dri­ven ap­proach to drug de­vel­op­ment,” Ri­va said in a state­ment. “I look for­ward to work­ing along­side Gilead’s ded­i­cat­ed and pas­sion­ate col­leagues through­out the R&D or­ga­ni­za­tion to tack­le the can­cer re­search and de­vel­op­ment chal­lenge with a goal of im­prov­ing the lives of pa­tients.”

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

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Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

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In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

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Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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