Alex­ion's Hantson poach­es Bio­gen CFO Clan­cy as buzz of a loom­ing pipeline shake­up heats up

Paul Clan­cy

You can count one more top ex­ec at Bio­gen $BI­IB out the ex­it as new CEO Michel Vounatsos builds his team at the big biotech. And the de­part­ing ex­ec is head­ed straight to Alex­ion $ALXN, where Lud­wig Hantson has been build­ing his own team with an eye to strip­ping the pipeline ahead of a planned re­fur­bish­ment.

This time the ex­ec on the move is Paul Clan­cy, CFO at Bio­gen dur­ing the last event­ful decade at the big biotech.

Clan­cy sur­vived the bumpy de­par­ture of Jim Mullen in 2010 and helped steer the com­pa­ny as it launched a megablock­buster flag­ship drug in Tec­fidera un­der then CEO George Scan­gos.

Now Clan­cy is tak­ing on the top fi­nance job at Alex­ion at a time Hantson has gut­ted the old crew and brought in a whole new bunch to steer a dif­fer­ent course. Just a few weeks ago Hantson saw off R&D chief Mar­tin Mack­ay as well as CFO David An­der­son, who had been in that job on­ly six months. Clare Carmichael, the head of hu­man re­sources, left June 1 along with chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Carsten Thiel.

Bio­gen’s loss is Alex­ion’s gain. Bio­gen saw its shares drop 3% Wednes­day morn­ing, while Alex­ion stock surged 7%.

Alex­ion has un­der­gone a brain trans­plant af­ter the for­mer CEO and CFO came un­der scruti­ny for the way the com­pa­ny was push­ing ear­ly sales of Soliris to meet its num­bers. Now Hantson is al­so mak­ing it clear that the house clean­ing in the ex­ec­u­tive suite will be fol­lowed by a cleanup in R&D as well.

Lud­wig Hantson

Hantson — who has been open­ly com­plain­ing about the state of af­fairs at Alex­ion — re­port­ed­ly turned up at the Gold­man Sachs Health­care Con­fer­ence yes­ter­day say­ing he was think­ing of writ­ing off Kanu­ma, which quick­ly made the rounds on Twit­ter. Alex­ion ac­quired Kanu­ma in an $8.4 bil­lion buy­out of Synage­va and has lit­tle to show for it as sales fiz­zled.

ALXN1210 — an an­ti-C5 an­ti­body that in­hibits ter­mi­nal com­ple­ment for pa­tients with parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria (PNH) — was about the on­ly ex­per­i­men­tal prod­uct that earned much re­spect from Hantson. Hantson al­so re­cruit­ed his old R&D chief at Bax­al­ta, John Orloff, to helm the re­search crew as the com­pa­ny dumps what it doesn’t like and starts to re­tune the pipeline, just a few years be­fore its main­stay drug Soliris los­es patent pro­tec­tion in Eu­rope and the US in 2020 and 2021.

Hantson and Alex­ion, and now Clan­cy, don’t have much time if they want to turn the com­pa­ny around be­fore biosim­i­lars start to carve up its fran­chise.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

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President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.