Stéphane Bancel, Getty

As Covid-19 vac­cine was be­ing de­vel­oped, Mod­er­na shelled out more than $1M for top ex­ec­u­tives' se­cu­ri­ty

Tal Zaks

As Mod­er­na worked in over­drive to cre­ate the sec­ond Covid-19 vac­cine grant­ed emer­gency use au­tho­riza­tion by the FDA, it spent more than $1.1 mil­lion on se­cu­ri­ty for its top ex­ec­u­tives — the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­i­ty of which went to keep­ing CEO Stéphane Ban­cel safe.

More than $1 mil­lion was spent on se­cu­ri­ty costs for Ban­cel in 2020, ac­cord­ing to a proxy fil­ing pub­lished this week. CMO Tal Zaks, who in Feb­ru­ary an­nounced that he will leave the com­pa­ny lat­er this year, re­ceived $143,719 for se­cu­ri­ty. The com­pa­ny al­so spent $16,380 on se­cu­ri­ty for Pres­i­dent Stephen Hoge, and $28,161 on SVP Juan An­dres.

The spend­ing in­crease ad­dressed se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns as the com­pa­ny pur­sued the de­vel­op­ment of the Covid-19 vac­cine, the re­port said.

“In re­sponse to the in­creased pro­file of our Com­pa­ny and our ex­ec­u­tives as we pur­sued the de­vel­op­ment of a vac­cine against COVID19, in 2020 the Com­pa­ny au­tho­rized the pro­vi­sion of per­son­al and home se­cu­ri­ty ser­vices to cer­tain of our NEOs,” the re­port stat­ed.

That $1 mil­lion in se­cu­ri­ty fees rounds out Ban­cel’s $13 mil­lion pay as Mod­er­na CEO. Around $9 mil­lion of that came in stock op­tions, while more than $945,000 was tot­ted up for salary and $1.9 mil­lion for a bonus.

In Ju­ly, Reuters re­port­ed that Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-linked hack­ers tar­get­ed Mod­er­na in a cy­ber­at­tack, in an at­tempt to steal da­ta. The US Jus­tice De­part­ment pub­li­cized an in­dict­ment of 2 sus­pects ac­cused of spy­ing on the US, in­clud­ing 3 un­named tar­gets in­volved in med­ical re­search to fight the virus. Mod­er­na con­firmed to Reuters that the com­pa­ny had been made aware of the sus­pect­ed hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties by the FBI.

Chi­nese of­fi­cials have re­ject­ed the claims as base­less. Re­ports that Rus­sia al­so has tried to steal Covid-19 vac­cines and ther­a­peu­tics re­search in the US, UK and Cana­da al­so came out in Ju­ly from Britain’s Na­tion­al Cy­ber Se­cu­ri­ty Cen­tre. That re­port al­so did not spec­i­fy which groups had been tar­get­ed, but The Tele­graph re­port­ed that the teams in­volved in the As­traZeneca vac­cine had been sub­jects of the at­tack.

What Will it Take to Re­al­ize the Promise and Po­ten­tial of Im­mune Cell Ther­a­pies?

What does it take to get to the finish line with a new cancer therapy – fast? With approvals in place and hundreds of immune cell therapy candidates in the pipeline, the global industry is poised to create a fundamental shift in cancer treatments towards precision medicine. At the same time, unique challenges associated with cell and process complexity present manufacturing bottlenecks that delay speed to market and heighten cost of goods sold (COGS) — these hurdles must be overcome to make precision treatments an option for every cancer patient. This series of articles highlights some of the key manufacturing challenges associated with the production of cell-based cancer therapies as well as the solutions needed to transcend them. Automation, process knowledge, scalability, and assured supply of high-quality starting material and reagents are all critical to realizing the full potential of CAR-based therapies and sustaining the momentum achieved in recent years. The articles will highlight leading-edge technologies that incorporate these features to integrate across workflows, accelerate timelines and reduce COGS – along with how these approaches are enabling the biopharmaceutical industry to cross the finish line faster with new treatment options for patients in need.

The biggest ques­tions fac­ing gene ther­a­py, the XLMTM com­mu­ni­ty, and Astel­las af­ter fourth pa­tient death

After three patients died last year in an Astellas gene therapy trial, the company halted the study and began figuring out how to safely get the program back on track. They would, executives eventually explained, cut the dose by more than half and institute a battery of other measures to try to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Then tragically, Astellas announced this week that the first patient to receive the new regimen had died, just weeks after administration.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Lat­est news: It’s a no on uni­ver­sal boost­ers; Pa­tient death stuns gene ther­a­py field; In­side Tril­li­um’s $2.3B turn­around; 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.

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one, as our editor-in-chief John Carroll and managing editor Kyle Blankenship lead back-to-back discussions with a great group of experts to discuss the weekend news and trends. John will be spending 30 minutes with Jake Van Naarden, the CEO of Lilly Oncology, and Kyle has a brilliant panel lined up: Harvard’s Cigall Kadoch, Susan Galbraith, the new head of cancer R&D at AstraZeneca, Roy Baynes at Merck, and James Christensen at Mirati. Don’t miss out on the action — sign up here.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

President Biden and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

Chaot­ic ad­comm sees Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech boost­ers re­ject­ed for gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, but rec­om­mend­ed for old­er and high-risk pop­u­la­tions

With just days before President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 booster rollout is set to go into effect, an FDA advisory committee appeared on the verge of not recommending boosters for anyone in the US before a last-minute change of wording laid the groundwork for older adults to have access to a third dose.

The FDA’s adcomm on Vaccines and Related Biological Products (VRBPAC) roundly rejected Pfizer/BioNTech booster shots for all individuals older than 16 by a 16-2 vote Friday afternoon. Soon after, however, the agency posed committee members a new question limiting booster use to the 65-and-older population and individuals at high risk of disease due to occupational exposure or comorbidities.

As­traZeneca, Dai­ichi Sanky­o's ADC En­her­tu blows away Roche's Kad­cy­la in sec­ond-line ad­vanced breast can­cer

AstraZeneca and Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo think they’ve struck gold with their next-gen ADC drug Enhertu, which has shown some striking data in late-stage breast cancer trials and early solid tumor tests. Getting into earlier patients is now the goal, starting with Enhertu’s complete walkover of a Roche drug in second-line breast cancer revealed Saturday.

Enhertu cut the risk of disease progression or death by a whopping 72% (p=<0.0001) compared with Roche’s ADC Kadcyla in second-line unresectable and/or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who had previously undergone treatment with a Herceptin-chemo combo, according to interim data from the Phase III DESTINY-Breast03 head-to-head study presented at this weekend’s #ESMO21.

Merck Research Laboratories CMO Roy Baynes

Mer­ck­'s Keytru­da un­corks full da­ta on lat­est ad­ju­vant win — this time in melanoma — adding bricks to ear­ly can­cer wall

In recent months, the battle for PD-(L)1 dominance has spilled over into early cancer with Merck’s Keytruda and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo all alone on the front lines. Keytruda now has another shell in its bandolier, and it could spell a quick approval.

Keytruda cut the risk of relapse or death by 35% over placebo (p=0.00658) in high-risk, stage 2 melanoma patients who had previously undergone surgery to remove their tumors, according to full data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-716 presented Saturday at #ESMO21.

Mer­ck flesh­es out Keytru­da win in first-line cer­vi­cal can­cer, adding more fire­pow­er to its ear­ly can­cer push

Merck has worked hard to bring its I/O blockbuster Keytruda into earlier and earlier lines of therapy, and now the wonder drug appears poised to make a quick entry into early advanced cervical cancer.

A combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy with or without Roche’s Avastin cut the risk of death by 33% over chemo with or without Avastin (p=<0.001) in first-line patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, according to full data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-826 study presented Saturday at #ESMO21.

Back-to-back piv­otal fail­ures force Ther­a­vance to lay off 270 staffers, prune R&D fo­cus

If it all went well, Q3 was supposed to be harvest time for Theravance.

Both of its lead drugs — the pan-JAK inhibitor izencitinib and blood pressure drug ampreloxetine — were slated for crucial readouts. The biotech was, as SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges put it, “entering the most important period of validation events in its history.”

Instead, izencitinib flopped a key Phase IIb trial in ulcerative colitis, putting the J&J partnership around it in jeopardy. A month later, Theravance is reporting that the Phase III trial testing ampreloxetine in symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension is also a failure, imploding the company’s entire pipeline and forcing a rethink on R&D strategy.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Boston skyline (Shutterstock)

Boston, the Bay Area and San Diego dom­i­nate the life sci­ences re­al es­tate mar­ket. Where to next?

With strong competition for life sciences real estate in key clusters — greater Boston, San Francisco and San Diego — where will the industry look to expand next? That’s the question that real estate company JLL sought to answer in its latest report, released on Wednesday.

JLL scored US biotech hubs on a variety of criteria to come up with this year’s ranking, including talent, industry depth, innovation and lab real estate dynamics. Unsurprisingly, they found that last year’s top three clusters remain unchanged. JLL predicts that these core clusters will be “immovable” for the foreseeable future, comparing them to the Silicon Valley of biotech.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.