Arc­turus' ex-CEO tri­umphs, oust­ing board that oust­ed him

Joe Payne

The cur­tain is falling on the epic dra­ma be­tween lit­tle San Diego biotech Arc­turus and its for­mer CEO Joe Payne. Af­ter months of har­poon­ing each oth­er with law­suits in a war for con­trol, Payne has pre­vailed.

At least that’s what we’re read­ing from a state­ment Arc­turus pub­lished to­day, which an­nounced that four board mem­bers are re­sign­ing: Stu­art Collinson, Craig Wil­lett, Daniel Gef­fken, and David Shapiro. This was the ac­tion Payne has been root­ing for, as these four di­rec­tors, he al­leged, con­spired against him — re­sult­ing in the fir­ing of Payne this Feb­ru­ary. In par­tic­u­lar, Payne said these guys en­gaged in ac­tiv­i­ty that vi­o­lat­ed the rules es­tab­lished by the Is­raeli laws that gov­ern its op­er­a­tions.

For some back­ground, Payne was fired from the RNA med­i­cines com­pa­ny for al­leged­ly putting his own in­ter­ests be­fore Arc­turus’. Payne re­ject­ed that as­ser­tion, and re­spond­ed with de­mands for the com­pa­ny to hold an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­er­al meet­ing to vote on an ouster of his own de­sign. He want­ed to trade out the four ad­ver­saries on the board with new faces: Mag­da Mar­quet, Pe­ter Far­rell, An­drew Sas­sine, and James Bar­low.

Ac­cord­ing to Arc­turus’ new state­ment, the com­pa­ny has vot­ed in fa­vor of Payne’s plans, forc­ing the old play­ers out. The com­pa­ny’s stock is up near­ly 14% on the news, trad­ing at $6.93 per share as of press time.

Dra­ma aside, Payne’s pick for the board in­clude some of the biggest names in San Diego biotech. Mar­quet, founder and co-chair of Althea Tech­nolo­gies, is a well-known in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive who’s been lead­ing San Diego’s biotech com­mu­ni­ty for a cou­ple of decades. And Far­rell is the founder and for­mer long-term CEO and cur­rent chair­man of ResMed, one of the largest med­ical de­vice com­pa­nies in San Diego.

It’s un­clear what will hap­pen now with Payne. Will he re­join Arc­turus af­ter the new board set­tles in? We reached out to Payne, and will up­date you when we hear back.

The drawn out fight took a nasty turn when Arc­turus launched a se­ries of law­suits against Payne, seek­ing dam­ages and in­junc­tive re­lief and de­tail­ing Payne’s mul­ti­ple al­leged mis­con­ducts. Those in­clud­ed op­er­at­ing a “lu­cra­tive side busi­ness dur­ing busi­ness hours” and at­tempt­ing to trans­fer Arc­turus’ IP for no ap­par­ent rea­son dur­ing his tenure, in ad­di­tion to or­ches­trat­ing a move to block Arc­turus’ rou­tine au­dit­ing ac­tiv­i­ty.

But now, those law­suits should be dropped. Ac­cord­ing to Arc­turus’ state­ment, the set­tle­ment agree­ment in­clud­ed “mu­tu­al re­leas­es of all par­ties and the agree­ment by the com­pa­ny and Joseph E. Payne to ter­mi­nate all pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.”

Hope­ful­ly the next news we hear from Arc­turus will be about the com­pa­ny’s sci­ence.

“We are pleased to have come to­geth­er to reach this very pos­i­tive out­come that al­lows Arc­turus to move for­ward, fo­cused on cre­at­ing sub­stan­tial val­ue for all share­hold­ers,” Payne said. “We warm­ly ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tin­ued sup­port from our share­hold­ers, and the en­cour­age­ment to reach an am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion through this agree­ment. The com­pa­ny has ac­com­plished a great deal in the last five years, and I’m con­fi­dent that with the strong lead­er­ship of the board and man­age­ment team, the best days are ahead for Arc­turus.”

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.