In Astellas Oncology's latest corporate campaign, employees talk about the pharma and their personal dedication to tackling cancer.

Astel­las sig­nals on­col­o­gy as­pi­ra­tions to health­care providers in ‘Change­mak­ers’ cam­paign

Astel­las is high­light­ing the peo­ple be­hind its on­col­o­gy ef­forts with its lat­est cor­po­rate cam­paign. The “Change­mak­ers” fea­tures some of the re­al Astel­las On­col­o­gy em­ploy­ee sci­en­tists, re­searchers and busi­ness peo­ple talk­ing about their pas­sions and rea­sons for do­ing what they do.

The three-part video se­ries is shot in stark black-and-white video with the on­ly col­or a con­nect­ing red mul­ti-line thread run­ning through the scenes be­tween peo­ple and thoughts — some­times very per­son­al ones. Se­nior di­rec­tor of US med­ical af­fairs Stephanie Braun talks about her moth­er who was di­ag­nosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at the time she hap­pened to be work­ing in that area. She talks about her moth­er’s treat­ments that gave her time with fam­i­ly and more mile­stones af­ter she was di­ag­nosed.

“Hav­ing that per­son­al con­nec­tion, I think helps me to re­late to the health­care providers that we work with who are touched, ob­vi­ous­ly, by can­cer every sin­gle day,” she says in the sec­ond video.

Ge­off Towle

Ge­off Towle, Astel­las’ VP, on­col­o­gy said the “Change­mak­ers” do­cuseries de­buted ear­li­er this year, with con­tin­ued air­ings this fall, as part of Astel­las On­col­o­gy’s big­ger um­brel­la “Chang­ing the Course” ef­fort.

Astel­las is fo­cus­ing on physi­cians and health­care providers with the mes­sages to not on­ly show it un­der­stands the com­plex­i­ty of care and treat­ment, but al­so that it’s com­mit­ted to part­ner­ing with them to “change the course for the bet­ter,” he said.

“Health­care providers are at the front­line of pa­tient care and they, and the pa­tients, are re­al­ly our in­spi­ra­tion in this,” Towle said. “The videos are about help­ing ex­plain there is a world class team here at Astel­las and folks who are all com­mit­ted to this mis­sion and bring that com­mit­ment to life with their sto­ries.”

The cam­paign is run­ning on so­cial me­dia, in­clud­ing Twit­ter, Face­book and LinkedIn, with al­ready about one mil­lion video views across the chan­nels, he said. The three videos will con­tin­ue to run through 2022 while Astel­las is cur­rent­ly de­vel­op­ing 2023 plans.

The three dif­fer­ent seg­ments fo­cus on Astel­las’ ded­i­ca­tion to pa­tients, fol­low­ing the sci­ence and al­so bring­ing the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence to life with one em­ploy­ee who has been through can­cer her­self.

“I be­lieve that Astel­las was able to see can­cer through my eyes. I felt it. It gave me the abil­i­ty to get through this jour­ney, the med­ical jour­ney side of it, and feel sup­port­ed and em­pow­ered to move for­ward,” says Christa Over­ton who is a se­nior sales rep at Astel­las.

Towle said, “These peo­ple rep­re­sent the dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and dif­fer­ent func­tions in our or­ga­ni­za­tion – and they al­so have per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al ex­pe­ri­ences that help us bring those themes to life. … It’s been a great op­por­tu­ni­ty to fea­ture a wide cross sec­tion of em­ploy­ees rep­re­sent­ing the rest of us.”

Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; 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.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Healthcare professionals give pharma company engagements middle-of-the-road reviews in a new survey. (Image: Shutterstock)

UCB, No­vo Nordisk, Gilead rank high­est among phar­mas for HCP cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence — sur­vey

When it comes to customer service to healthcare professionals, pharma companies’ overall average rating is, well, average. Its industry customer experience score of 59 is at the lower end of “good” (rated as scores from 51-75) in DT Consulting’s annual assessment out now.

Topping the list of individual pharma companies was UCB with a 66 score on the consultant’s proprietary “Customer Experience Quotient” or CXQ scale. Novo Nordisk and Gilead Sciences followed, tied for second at 65, while Boehringer Ingelheim and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen tied for third with 64. Still, none of the top scores neared “excellent” territory of 76 or higher.

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Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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John Rim, Samsung Biologics CEO (Samsung/PR Newswire)

Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics spells out ex­pan­sion plans in South Ko­rea and US

The CDMO arm of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates has posted its year-end results and plans for 2023, which include new construction.

Samsung Biologics netted north of KRW 3 trillion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 revenue and an operating profit of KRW 983.6 billion ($799 million), which the company touted on Friday as “record-high earnings.” The revenue boost was 55% compared to 2021.

No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.