Richard Pops, Alkermes CEO (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Alk­er­mes hands a board seat to Alex Den­ner's Saris­sa af­ter fac­ing re­newed proxy pres­sure to 're­fresh' di­rec­tors

It’s been sev­er­al months since Alk­er­mes chief Richard Pops won over ac­tivists at El­liott Ad­vi­sors with a grand plan to shake up the com­pa­ny. Now, fac­ing new pres­sure from Alex Den­ner at Saris­sa Cap­i­tal, the CEO is mak­ing good on his promise to “re­fresh” the board of di­rec­tors.

Fol­low­ing “con­struc­tive di­a­logue” with Saris­sa — which owns a 5% stake in Alk­er­mes — the com­pa­ny said on Fri­day that it’s al­low­ing the ac­tivist fund to tap a new di­rec­tor to the board. It’s the lat­est move in a board re­fresh­ment pro­gram Alk­er­mes ini­ti­at­ed two years ago, which has since seen the ap­point­ment of four in­de­pen­dent mem­bers.

Alex Den­ner

“Alk­er­mes has at­trac­tive and un­der­ap­pre­ci­at­ed as­sets that can dri­ve mean­ing­ful val­ue cre­ation,” Den­ner said in a state­ment. “We look for­ward to work­ing with the Board to fo­cus on op­ti­mal cap­i­tal al­lo­ca­tion and op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence and to cre­ate share­hold­er val­ue.”

$ALKS stock was up 1.03% ear­ly Mon­day morn­ing, pric­ing in at $22 apiece.

Alk­er­mes has re­cent­ly ex­pe­ri­enced a se­ries of set­backs, in­clud­ing a com­plete re­sponse let­ter in No­vem­ber for their top prospect, the an­ti-psy­chot­ic com­bo drug ALKS-3831. The com­pa­ny re­sub­mit­ted its NDA in Jan­u­ary and was hand­ed a June 1 ac­tion date.

In De­cem­ber, Pops laid out a com­mit­ment to push the com­pa­ny’s net in­come to 30% by 2024, while bring­ing its top pro­grams to mar­ket and auc­tion­ing off “non-core as­sets.” The plans pleased ac­tivists at El­liott, which an­nounced it was “con­fi­dent that the Com­pa­ny is com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing share­hold­er val­ue.”

Mizuho’s Vamil Di­van said Alk­er­mes’ Fri­day an­nounce­ment doesn’t change much but high­lights the pres­sure on Pops to de­liv­er for share­hold­ers.

“We were im­pressed by Alk­er­mes’ per­for­mance in 1Q21 and con­tin­ue to see mul­ti­ple ar­eas of up­side for ALKS shares, in­clud­ing nem­valeukin, Ly­balvi, and Vumer­i­ty,” Di­van wrote in a note. “The ac­tivist in­volve­ment in the sto­ry is not fun­da­men­tal to our bull­ish view, but should pro­vide some sup­port and like­ly a floor to the stock.”

Two of Alk­er­mes’ long-stand­ing board mem­bers are set to re­tire this year, ac­cord­ing to Di­van, one of whom will be re­placed by a mem­ber nom­i­nat­ed by Saris­sa, and an­oth­er of whom will be re­placed through Alk­er­mes’ talks with El­liott.

Den­ner — the Carl Ic­ahn pro­tégé known for forc­ing out old CEOs and forc­ing through new buy­outs — was re­cent­ly be­hind an ac­tivist at­tack at Iron­wood Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which ul­ti­mate­ly got him a seat on the board. Iron­wood suc­cess­ful­ly kept Den­ner off the board for two years be­fore fi­nal­ly cav­ing in No­vem­ber.

“We val­ue the opin­ions and in­put of Saris­sa Cap­i­tal and our oth­er share­hold­ers in iden­ti­fy­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions for new di­rec­tors to help ad­vance our busi­ness strat­e­gy to cre­ate share­hold­er val­ue,” Pops said in a state­ment.

Mov­ing Out of the Clin­ic with Dig­i­tal Tools: Mo­bile Spirom­e­try Dur­ing COVID-19 & Be­yond

An important technology in assessing lung function, spirometry offers crucial data for the diagnosis and monitoring of pulmonary system diseases, as well as the ongoing measurement of treatment efficacy. But trends in the healthcare industry and new challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic are causing professionals in clinical practice and research to reevaluate spirometry’s deployment methods and best practices.

Paul Hudson (Getty Images)

Sanofi, Glax­o­SmithK­line jump back in­to the PhI­II race for a Covid vac­cine — as the win­ners con­gre­gate be­hind the fin­ish line

Sanofi got out early in the race to develop a vaccine using more of a traditional approach, then derailed late last year as their candidate failed to work in older people. Now, after likely missing the bus for the bulk of the world’s affluent nations, they’re back from that embarrassing collapse with a second attempt using GSK’s adjuvant that may get them back on track — with a potential Q4 launch that the rest of the world will be paying close attention to.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

SCO­TUS de­clines to re­view En­brel biosim­i­lar case, tee­ing up 30+ years of ex­clu­siv­i­ty and $20B more for Am­gen’s block­buster

As the House Oversight Committee is set to grill AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday over tactics to block competition for its best-selling drug of all time, another decision on Capitol Hill on Monday opened the door for billions more in Amgen profits over the next eight years.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Novartis subsidiary Sandoz’s petition to review a Federal Circuit’s July 2020 decision concerning its biosimilar Erelzi (etanercept-szzs), which FDA approved in 2016 as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept). Samsung’s Enbrel biosimilar Eticovo also won approval in 2019 and remains sidelined.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Tim Mayleben (L) and Sheldon Koenig (Esperion)

On the heels of a sting­ing Q1 set­back, Es­pe­ri­on's long­time cham­pi­on is ex­it­ing the helm and turn­ing the wheel over to a mar­ket­ing pro

Just days after getting stung by criticism from a badly disappointed group of analysts, there’s a big change happening today at the helm of Esperion $ESPR.

Longtime CEO Tim Mayleben, who championed the company for 9 years from early clinical through a lengthy late-stage drive to successfully get their cholesterol drug approved for a significant niche of patients in the US, is out of the C suite, effective immediately. Sheldon Koenig — hired at the end of 2020 with a resume replete with Big Pharma CV sales experience —  is stepping into his place, promising to right a badly listing commercial ship that’s been battered by market forces.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

How to man­u­fac­ture Covid-19 vac­cines with­out the help of J&J, Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na? Bi­ol­yse sees the dif­fi­cul­ties up close

When Biolyse, an Ontario-based manufacturer of sterile injectables, forged a deal with Bolivia last week to manufacture up to 50 million J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses, the agreement kicked off what will prove to be a test case for how difficult the system of compulsory licenses is to navigate.

The first problem: When Biolyse asked J&J, via a March letter, to license its Covid-19 vaccine, manufacture it in Canada and pay 5% royalties on shipments to needy, low-income countries, J&J rejected the offer, refusing to negotiate. J&J also did not respond to a request for comment.

No­var­tis' En­tresto takes its 2nd fail­ure of the week­end at ACC, show­ing no ben­e­fit in most dire heart fail­ure pa­tients

Novartis’ Entresto started the ACC weekend off rough with a trial flop in heart attack patients, slowing the drug’s push into earlier patients. Now, an NIH-sponsored study is casting doubt on Entresto’s use in the most severe heart failure patients, another black mark on the increasingly controversial drug’s record.

Entresto, a combination of sacubitril and valsartan, could not beat out valsartan alone in an outcomes head-to-head for severe heart failure patients with a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), according to data presented Monday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

In­sid­er ac­count of Roivan­t's SPAC deal — and that $7.3B val­u­a­tion — re­veals a few se­crets as Matt Gline po­si­tions the com­pa­ny as the new ‘Big Phar­ma’

It was Oct. 7, 2020, and Matt Gline wasn’t wasting any time.

The CEO of Roivant had word that KKR vet Jim Momtazee’s SPAC had priced late the night before, triggering a green light for anyone interested in pursuing a big check for future operations and riding the financial instrument to Nasdaq. So he wrote a quick email congratulating Momtazee, whom he knew, for the launch.

Oh, and maybe Momtazee would like to schedule something with Gline and his executive chairman, Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy, to chat about Roivant and its business?

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

John­son & John­son do­nates Ebo­la vac­cine amid new out­break; Ji Xing promis­es more than $127M for Mile­stone's nasal spray for rapid heart rate

As Johnson & Johnson continues to roll out its Covid-19 shot, the company is also focused on another vaccine.

J&J is donating up to 200,000 doses of its Ebola vaccine regimen developed with Bavarian Nordic to help health authorities deal with a new outbreak in Sierra Leone. The regimen, Zabdeno and Mvabea, was granted prequalification by the WHO in April, which will help accelerate its registration in countries where Ebola is a threat.