Analysts offer a lukewarm endorsement to Amgen for PhIII migraine data; Arsanis raises $45.5M Series D; Covance faces restructuring

→ Analysts took a look at the data on Amgen’s latest Phase III for CGRP migraine drug erenumab (AMG334) and came away reassured, but perhaps a bit unimpressed. Here’s Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges: “The data confirm the ample evidence from phase 2 trials that suggested that calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor blockade will provide the first-ever migraine targeted prevention pharmaceutical treatment. Both trials demonstrated the superiority of AMG334 to placebo on both the primary and secondary endpoints, as well as showing excellent safety and tolerability. While the data were not overwhelmingly positive (i.e., 60% of patients with 50% reduction in migraine days), they were consistent and durable, which should ensure widespread adoption by patients (provide pricing and payer processing allow it). Amgen’s erenumab appears to have shown a similar placebo adjusted effect as Alder’s (OP) Eptinezumab in phase 2 trials (1 day improvement of monthly migraines at week 12). The effect is lower than Lilly’s (OP) and Teva’s (OP) phase 2 effect sizes, which showed an improvement of 1.2 days and 2.6 days at the same time point. However, in our opinion there is no doubt that erenumab will receive regulatory approval despite data that may not match expectations from earlier trials.”

→ Waltham, MA-based Arsanis has raised $45.5 million in a Series D led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Arsanis is working on developing antibodies for infectious diseases, with a Phase II underway for Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia in high-risk ICU patients. Several additional new investors participated in the financing, including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company’s existing investors, including OrbiMed, Polaris Venture Partners, SV Health Investors, NeoMed, EMBL Ventures and the Anna Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation also participated in the Series D round.

LabCorp says its big CRO group Covance will undergo a restructuring, facing layoffs and facility closures after reporting some disappointing results for Q1. LabCorp acquired Covance for a bit more than $6 billion in 2015.

→ San Diego-based Forge Therapeutics has raised $15 million for antibiotics R&D work. MagnaSci Ventures led the round with participation from Evotec AG, Alexandria Venture Investments, MP Healthcare Venture Management, Red Apple Group, and WS Investments.

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