Al­ler­gan CEO gam­bles a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar fran­chise — and his com­pa­ny rep — on a high-stakes bet at an In­di­an casi­no op

Bioreg­numThe view from End­points News


Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders scored some heavy­weight ku­dos last fall with a so­cial con­tract that con­demned preda­to­ry drug pric­ing by the likes of Mar­tin Shkre­li and out­lined the com­pa­ny’s com­mit­ment to R&D and ac­cess. But on Fri­day he squan­dered what­ev­er moral clout he may have earned along the way with a le­gal gam­bit that looked too clever by half.

Here’s what hap­pened:

Fac­ing a patent chal­lenge to its fran­chise drug Resta­sis, Al­ler­gan hand­ed over the patents to the St. Reg­is Mo­hawk Tribe, which has sov­er­eign im­mu­ni­ty against in­ter partes re­view chal­lenges. The tribe — best known for its casi­no ops — hand­ed back an ex­clu­sive li­cense to the drug, col­lect­ed $13.75 mil­lion and can look for­ward to mil­lions more in roy­al­ties each year, un­less the courts toss it all out as a cyn­i­cal ploy cooked up by at­tor­neys.

This had all the in­gre­di­ents any re­porter looks for in an at­ten­tion-grab­bing sto­ry.

  1. Toss in a phar­ma com­pa­ny at a time the in­dus­try is tagged with a rep for greed and a weak grasp of ethics.
  2. Add a le­gal ma­neu­ver that looked like it came from the of­fice of Break­ing Bad’s Saul Good­man.
  3. Stir in some protests from the tribe that casi­no gam­bling doesn’t of­fer a se­cure enough rev­enue stream to guar­an­tee their fu­ture in­come.

What you get are some fresh­ly baked goods from a long line of pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, the Wall Street Jour­nal, CN­BC, etc., etc., etc.

“I be­lieve it’s nov­el,” Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders told CN­BC. “The ac­tions to­day re­al­ly al­low us to fo­cus the de­fense of the Resta­sis patents in the fed­er­al court sys­tem and avoid the dou­ble jeop­ardy cre­at­ed by the IPR sys­tem.”

A car sales­man I knew in Texas once told me if it doesn’t look good in a head­line, don’t do it.

Al­ler­gan just vault­ed that line.

The tribe, mean­while, is of­fer­ing its patent pro­tec­tion ser­vices to any­one else in the phar­ma in­dus­try that would like to shift their patents to their pro­tect­ed trib­al lands — in ex­change for a hefty fee of course.


Im­age: Brent Saun­ders Get­ty

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

ProFound Therapeutics founding team

Flag­ship's lat­est biotech could turn some of the thou­sands of new pro­teins it dis­cov­ered in­to ther­a­pies — and it has $75M to start

Flagship Pioneering, the incubator of Moderna and dozens of other biotechs, says it has landed upon tens of thousands of previously undiscovered human proteins. The VC shop wants to potentially turn them into therapeutics.

Like other drug developers that have turned proteins into therapeutics (think insulin for diabetes), Flagship’s latest creation, ProFound Therapeutics, wants to tap into this new trove of proteins as part of its mission to treat indications ranging from rare diseases to cancer to immunological diseases.

Richard Silverman, Akava Therapeutics founder and Northwestern professor

This time around, Lyri­ca's in­ven­tor is de­vel­op­ing his North­west­ern dis­cov­er­ies at his own biotech

Richard Silverman was left in the dark for the last five years of clinical development of the drug he discovered. The Northwestern University professor found out about the first approval of Lyrica, in the last few days of 2004, like most other people: in the newspaper.

What became one of Pfizer’s top-selling meds, at $5 billion in 2017 global sales before losing patent protection in 2019, started slipping out of his hands when Northwestern licensed it out to Parke-Davis, one of two biotechs that showed interest in developing the drug in the pre-email days, when the university’s two-person tech transfer team had to ship out letters to garner industry appetite.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Ricks, Eli Lilly CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eli Lil­ly set to in­vest $2.1B in home state man­u­fac­tur­ing boost

Eli Lilly is looking to expand its footprint in its home Hoosier State by making a major investment in manufacturing.

The pharma is investing $2.1 billion in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, northwest of Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis.

The two new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, including genetic medicines, according to a press release.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Up­dat­ed: US sees spike in Paxlovid us­age as Mer­ck­'s mol­nupi­ravir and As­traZeneca's Evusheld are slow­er off the shelf

New data from HHS show that more than 162,000 courses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid were administered across the US over the past week, continuing a streak of increased usage of the pill, and signaling not only rising case numbers but more awareness of how to access it.

In comparison to this week, about 670,000 courses of the Pfizer pill have been administered across the first five months since Paxlovid has been on the US market, averaging about 33,000 courses administered per week in that time.

Pfiz­er and CD­MOs ramp up Paxlovid man­u­fac­tur­ing with Kala­ma­zoo plant ex­pan­sion lead­ing the way

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, pharma companies and manufacturers are exploring how to step up production on antivirals.

Pfizer is planning to expand its Kalamazoo-area facility to increase manufacturing capabilities for the oral Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, according to a report from Michigan-based news site MLive. The expansion of the facility, which serves as Pfizer’s largest manufacturing location, is expected to create hundreds of “high-skilled” STEM jobs, MLive reported. No details about the project’s cost and timeline have been released, but according to MLive, Pfizer will announce the details of the expansion at some point in early June.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 142,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA spells out the rules and re­stric­tions for states seek­ing to im­port drugs from Cana­da

The FDA is offering more of an explanation of the guardrails around its program that may soon allow states to import prescription drugs in some select circumstances from Canada, but only if such imports will result in significant cost reductions for consumers.

While the agency has yet to sign off on any of the 5 state plans in the works so far, and PhRMA’s suit to block the Trump-era rule allowing such imports is stalled, the new Q&A guidance spells out the various restrictions that states will have to abide by, potentially signaling that a state approval is coming.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla at the World Economic Forum (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP Images)

All about ac­cess: Pfiz­er moves to a non-prof­it mod­el for drug sales in 45 low­er-in­come coun­tries

Leading the way to increase access to cheaper drugs worldwide, Pfizer said Wednesday it will provide all current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to about 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.

Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to sign on to this accord, which will also seek to blaze new paths for quick and efficient regulatory and procurement processes to reduce the usual delays in making new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.

Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”