An up­date on the End­points busi­ness mod­el — and how your com­pa­ny can di­rect­ly sup­port it

Pic­tured: The print-op­ti­mized ver­sion of End­points’ 2018 New Drug Ap­provals re­port. All paid sub­scribers will re­ceive a di­rect link to down­load the PDF + a copy of all our Q1 pay­wall sto­ries in print­able form, too.

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I want to give read­ers an up­date on the busi­ness front at End­points News, which is strong.

Two and a half years in — we’re prof­itable, about 14 peo­ple on the team and grow­ing, and 75,000 unique bio­phar­ma read­ers con­sume our news across all plat­forms on a week­ly ba­sis. Of that, 31,000 are what we con­sid­er “ba­sic sub­scribers” who re­ceive our dai­ly email re­ports and have opened or clicked on them in the last month, but haven’t up­grad­ed to paid sta­tus. And at the top we have 8,300 pre­mi­um sub­scribers who ei­ther di­rect­ly sup­port the work or are em­ployed at a com­pa­ny that does.

We reg­u­lar­ly scrub our email read­er­ship, too.

We’ve built a glob­al events fran­chise and con­vened over 2,000 at­ten­dees over the last 12 months in San Fran­cis­co, Boston, Lon­don, and Shang­hai. Lat­er this month we’ll be an­nounc­ing venues and dates for our en­tire 2019 line­up.

John Car­roll speaks at the US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit in Shang­hai on Oc­to­ber 23, 2018

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion


And we’ve done all of this with­out rais­ing any VC cash.

End­points is built to with­stand the storms en­velop­ing dig­i­tal me­dia to­day thanks to the di­rect sup­port of our En­ter­prise and In­sid­er sub­scribers.  We’re hir­ing new jour­nal­ists, plan to dou­ble the au­di­ence, and have moved in­to a new head­quar­ters in Lawrence, Kansas that’ll serve as the nerve-cen­ter for End­points’ next stage of in­no­va­tion. New hires in mar­ket­ing, sales, and op­er­a­tions are in the works now to sup­port that. There’s a web­site re­vamp on tap. And there’s just so much more news we’d like to cov­er in trans­la­tion­al sci­ence and out­sourc­ing.

Most im­por­tant­ly: Our fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives are tied to pro­duc­ing a jour­nal­ism prod­uct that serves the core bio­phar­ma read­er.

Haven’t joined yet? Now is a great time and you can see one of the ben­e­fits above: a print (yes, print!) ver­sion of the 2018 class of new drug ap­provals. You’ll al­so get ac­cess to the lat­est edi­tion of bio­phar­ma’s top 100 VCs, and the en­tire pay­wall li­brary.

The most im­por­tant way you can di­rect­ly sup­port End­points is hav­ing your com­pa­ny sub­scribe to our $1,000/year flat-rate En­ter­prise plan (signup link). That’s an “un­lim­it­ed li­cense” for every em­ploy­ee un­der your cor­po­rate ban­ner. All of your col­leagues get ac­cess to pay­wall con­tent, reprint rights, PDF ex­port, and your HR team gets two pre­mi­um job post­ings at End­points Ca­reers. We have a VIP sup­port team who’ll work with you to get End­points set up for the rest of your team, too.

It’s a great val­ue, and you’re sup­port­ing the most im­por­tant part of our mod­el. The pric­ing is trans­par­ent and so is our re­new­al process.

For in­di­vid­u­als, we of­fer the In­sid­er plan at $200/year. Ex­tra ben­e­fits on top of the pay­wall ac­cess in­clude dis­count­ed rates to our ma­jor glob­al events line­up.

We’re al­so start­ing a se­ries of sub­scriber-on­ly net­work­ing mix­ers for In­sid­ers. The very first one will be in Durham, NC on Thurs­day Feb­ru­ary 21 at 6pm. I’ll be there along with our VP/Part­ner­ships Mike Peck. In­sid­ers will get an email next week with signup de­tails on this one and our fu­ture slate.

Grow­ing Plans

We’re go­ing through a ma­jor plat­form over­haul this year.

The look and feel of End­points hasn’t changed since we launched in June 2016. The orig­i­nal goal of our de­sign is to de­liv­er news with­out un­nec­es­sary or­na­ments, with a user ex­pe­ri­ence that feels fa­mil­iar no mat­ter what de­vice you’re on. But we’ve pub­lished over 5,000 news ar­ti­cles and near­ly 700 dai­ly re­ports now in the End­points style, and with that ex­pe­ri­ence we’ve iden­ti­fied a num­ber of ar­eas we can im­prove on. Some of it will be in­cre­men­tal like bet­ter search and im­prov­ing the archives. Oth­ers will be more vis­i­ble and feel like brand new fea­tures.

Ad­ver­tis­ing

Sub­scrip­tions are the lifeblood of this com­pa­ny. But in or­der to de­vel­op a sus­tained im­pact be­fit­ting a ma­jor news or­ga­ni­za­tion, ar­ti­cles must be able to trav­el far and wide, eas­i­ly dis­cov­er­able by new au­di­ences. Oth­er­wise, we run the risk of be­com­ing an in­sid­ers-on­ly re­port.

That is where ad­ver­tis­ing comes in. But noth­ing we do there is tra­di­tion­al.

I don’t be­lieve in squeez­ing web pages hard for lit­tle juice. That’s es­sen­tial­ly what many news pub­lish­ers do when you see pro­mot­ed links and ads that are at best ir­rel­e­vant and at worst have fol­lowed you around the In­ter­net to sell you some­thing you searched on ear­li­er. That kind of ap­proach cheap­ens the qual­i­ty of the con­tent sur­round­ing it, in my view. It has no place on a busi­ness news web­site.

Every ad unit you see on End­points is pur­chased in-house. These are high qual­i­ty im­pres­sions that are rel­e­vant to bio­phar­ma, brought to you by ad­ver­tis­ers that have been vet­ted. Our busi­ness team is led by Mike Peck, who comes to End­points af­ter serv­ing as a VP at Forbes and the New York Times. Mar­ket­ing pros can reach him at mike@end­pointsnews.com.

Busi­ness Mod­el

Sub­scrip­tions, events, ad­ver­tis­ing — in or­der of im­por­tance, that is the End­points busi­ness mod­el. Our mis­sion is to pro­duce the best dai­ly news re­port in bio­phar­ma, writ­ten for our core read­ers, but to make it as wide­ly avail­able as pos­si­ble so it has an im­pact and is dis­cov­er­able by new read­ers.

If you need End­points, we def­i­nite­ly need you. Again the best way to sup­port us is hav­ing your com­pa­ny sub­scribe to our $1,000/year flat-rate En­ter­prise plan (signup link). In­di­vid­u­als can signup for In­sid­er here.

To all of you who’ve joined — thank you. We’re build­ing some­thing to­geth­er.

Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have the in­dus­try's rapt at­ten­tion

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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UCB tries to win some re­spect in the crowd­ed pso­ri­a­sis mar­ket with a dual IL-17 ap­proach — and it won't be easy

For a pharma company with about $5 billion in revenue, a couple of respectably sized blockbuster drugs on the market and some high-profile partners like Amgen, Belgium’s UCB has kept an unusually low profile on the pipeline side of things over the years.
Until now.
Just days after striking a $2.1 billion deal to buy Ra Pharmaceuticals and its C5 rival to Soliris, UCB is posting positive top-line Phase III results for a dual IL-17 inhibitor that it’s steering into one of the most competitive commercial spaces in the industry. And despite plenty of obvious challenges as they struggle to roll out Evenity with Amgen and patent expirations loom on its franchise drugs, including Cimzia, the company just may be ready to tackle some of the biggest players on the planet.
In their first of 3 Phase III studies for bimekizumab, researchers touted top-line wins on statistically significant results on clearing plaque psoriasis, including a victory over J&J’s IL-23 contender Stelara on key endpoints. The drug targets both IL-17A and IL-17F, a modification on the IL-17A strategy laid out for Taltz (Eli Lilly) and Cosentyx (Novartis). And the new group also includes J&J’s Tremfya and AbbVie’s Skyrizi.
We don’t know the PASI90 and IGA scores — but UCB knows that with the kind of heavyweight competition it faces with Novartis and others, marginal gains for patients won’t stack up. So we’ll be watching for the hard numbers. And there’s another head-to-head with Cosentyx that will play a big role in pushing up analysts’ projections on peak sales, which currently fall well short of blockbuster status.
UCB hasn’t exactly been in the spotlight for the last few years, but it’s in a position now that the company has to win some respect in R&D, with blockbuster projects that can keep investors’ attention at a time the industry is experiencing booming R&D development efforts around the planet.
It hasn’t been easy. There was a setback on a lupus drug partnered with Biogen. But there have been some advances, with a deal to buy Proximagen’s NDA-ready nasal spray therapy USL261, designed as a rescue therapy for acute repetitive seizures, for $150 million in cash and another $220 million in sales and regulatory milestones. There was even a report that the company was kicking the deflated tires at Acorda, though nothing came of that.
Late last year UCB also committed to spend up to £200 million on a new R&D hub in the UK.
That may not translate into a lot of excitement right now, but they’re trying. And there’s a subtle promise that more deals may be in the works.

The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.
The biotech started by putting together an “arsenal” of technologies aimed at making cell therapies for cancer much, much better than the rather crude first-generation drugs that hit the market from Novartis and Kite.
Their drugs have become the baseline against which all others are being measured.
“The technology set we’re developing is independent of the chassis,” Drazan tells me. “It doesn’t have to be autologous (extracted from the patient) or allogeneic (off the shelf). It doesn’t have to be a T cell, it could be a B cell.” But they are starting out on the autologous side, where they have the most knowledge and insight into manufacturing techniques.
It also doesn’t have to be close to the clinic.
Drazan expects the biotech will be working its way through preclinical operations for “a few years,” with enough money from the $85 million launch round to get into humans.
By today’s superheated fundraising standards, that’s not a huge amount of cash. Lyell, another cell therapy 2.0 startup we featured last week, raised $600 million in a year, including a big chunk of cash from GlaxoSmithKline. Drazan is interested in dealmaking as well, but he also knows he has the cash necessary to support the company for a good run — a key part of what it takes to bring together a stellar team of top players.

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Eli Lil­ly’s first PhI­II show­down for their $1.6B can­cer drug just flopped — what now?

When Eli Lilly plunked down $1.6 billion in cash to acquire Armo Biosciences a little more than a year ago, the stars seemed aligned in its favor. The jewel in the crown they were buying was pegilodecakin, which had cleared the proof-of-concept stage and was already in a Phase III trial for pancreatic cancer.

And that study just failed.

Lilly reported this morning that their cancer drug flopped on overall survival when added to FOLFOX (folinic acid, 5-FU, oxaliplatin), compared to FOLFOX alone among patients suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.

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CSL ac­cus­es ri­val Pharm­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a scheme to rip off IP on HAE while re­cruit­ing se­nior R&D staffer

Pharming has landed in the middle of a legal donnybrook after recruiting a senior executive from a rival R&D team at CSL. The Australian pharma giant slapped Pharming with a lawsuit alleging that the Dutch biotech’s new employee, Joseph Chiao, looted a large cache of proprietary documents as he hit the exit. And they want it all back.
Federal Judge Juan Sanchez in the Eastern District Pennsylvania court issued an injunction on Tuesday prohibiting Chiao from doing any work on HAE or primary immune deficiency in his new job and demanding that he return any material from CSL that he may have in his possession. And he wants Pharming to tell its employees not to ask for any information on the forbidden topics.
For its part, Pharming fired off an indignant response this morning denying any involvement in extracting any kind of IP from CSL, adding that it’s cooperating in the internal probe that CSL has underway.

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Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Swamy Vijayan. Plexium

San Diego up­start de­buts dis­cov­ery en­gine that puts a twist to pro­tein degra­da­tion

For years, the idea of protein degradation — utilizing the cell’s natural garbage disposal system to mark problematic proteins for destruction — remained an elegant but technically difficult concept. But now established as a promising clinical strategy, with major biopharma players such as Bayer, Gilead and Vertex trying to grab a foothold via partnership deals, a San Diego startup is looking to exploit it and push its limits.

Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?