At­las wraps Arteaus sto­ry with $260M roy­al­ty sale as Em­gal­i­ty sales inch­es up­ward

Six months af­ter Eli Lil­ly notched a sec­ond-run­ner-up ap­proval for its CGRP mi­graine drug Em­gal­i­ty, the At­las-found­ed biotech that brought it over the proof-of-con­cept gate five years ago has sold all its roy­al­ty in­ter­est for $260 mil­lion.

In Arteaus’ “fi­nal chap­ter” — as At­las part­ner Bruce Booth calls it — the now-de­funct biotech hand­ed Roy­al­ty Phar­ma all pro­ceeds it would earn on fu­ture glob­al net sales of Em­gal­i­ty. The deal marks the fi­nal mon­e­ti­za­tion from Arteaus, which ceased op­er­a­tions as an in­de­pen­dent en­ti­ty af­ter Eli Lil­ly bought back rights to the drug in 2014.

Bought back, be­cause the drug was Lil­ly’s to start with. Arteaus was cre­at­ed cir­ca 2010 as a “built to buy” com­pa­ny amid dis­cus­sions be­tween At­las and Eli Lil­ly to ex­ter­nal­ize the Big Phar­ma’s R&D ef­forts. A lean team of ex­pe­ri­enced biotech ex­ecs (led by Dave Grayzel) li­censed what was then called gal­canezum­ab, raised $18 mil­lion in Se­ries A mon­ey and de­liv­ered re­sults from two dose as­cend­ing stud­ies as well as a Phase II ef­fi­ca­cy study with­in three years.

“Based on­ly on pub­lic dis­clo­sures, Arteaus has gen­er­at­ed north of $300M in pay­ments across the up­front, mile­stones, and roy­al­ties – af­ter spend­ing less than $18M in eq­ui­ty cap­i­tal,” Booth writes in a blog­post. “A su­perb ven­ture re­turn.”

Booth adds that part­ner­ing with roy­al­ty port­fo­lio firms like Roy­al­ty Phar­ma was al­ways the plan “giv­en the tem­po­ral chal­lenge of a closed-end time-lim­it­ed ven­ture fund and the long tail of fu­ture roy­al­ty pay­ments.”

Dave Grayzel

Em­gal­i­ty was the third CGRP in­jectable to join the mi­graine pre­ven­tion par­ty, fol­low­ing af­ter Am­gen/No­var­tis’ Aimovig and Te­va’s Ajovy. But un­like its ri­vals and an­a­lysts, who have con­ced­ed that da­ta un­der­ly­ing the three prod­ucts are large­ly sim­i­lar, Lil­ly made the case that its me-too drug was in fact a touch above the rest, and its sales strat­e­gy would do the rest.

De­spite some­what dis­ap­point­ing sales of $5 mil­lion in the three months in 2018, Eval­u­atePhar­ma is fore­cast­ing 2024 sales of $1.2 bil­lion for Em­gal­i­ty, match­ing Roy­al­ty Phar­ma’s block­buster hopes that the drug will carve out a sub­stan­tial share of the mam­moth mar­ket that ad­dress­es 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans (worth $5 bil­lion to $6 bil­lion by some es­ti­mates).

Mean­while, Em­gal­i­ty has al­so been grant­ed pri­or­i­ty re­view by the FDA to pre­vent episod­ic clus­ter headaches in adults, an un­der-rec­og­nized and of­ten mis­di­ag­nosed dis­or­der that has no FDA-ap­proved pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ments so far.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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As­traZeneca’s $7B ADC suc­ceeds where Roche failed, im­prov­ing sur­vival in gas­tric can­cer

Another day, another win for Enhertu.

The antibody-drug conjugate AstraZeneca promised up-to $7 billion to partner on has had a quite a few months, beginning with splashy results in a Phase II breast cancer trial, a rapid approval and, earlier this month, breakthrough designations in both non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer.

Now, at ASCO, the British pharma and their Japanese partner, Daiichi Sankyo, have shown off the data that led to the gastric cancer designation, which they’ll take back to the FDA. In a pivotal, 187-person Phase II trial, Enhertu shrunk tumors in 42.9% of third-line patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer, compared with 12.5% in a control arm where doctors prescribed their choice of therapy. Progression-free survival was 5.4 months for Enhertu compared to 3.5 months for the control.

Once a gem, now just a rock, Take­da punts PhI­II IBD drug as ri­vals mus­cle ahead

Back in 2016, when then-Shire CEO Flemming Ørnskov picked up a promising clinical-stage IBD drug from Pfizer, the Boston-based biotech dubbed it SHP647 and moved it into the gem section of the pipeline, with rosy expectations of registration-worthy Phase III data ahead.

This was a drug that the EC wanted Takeda to commit to selling off before it gave their blessing to its acquisition of Shire, to settle some deep-seated concerns revolving around the potential market overlap with their blockbuster rival Entyvio. And Takeda, which took on a heavy debt load to buy Shire, clearly wanted the cash to pay down debt.