Ax­o­vant: That pos­i­tive p-val­ue we re­port­ed yes­ter­day? Um, we screwed that up too

Yes­ter­day Ax­o­vant ex­ecs watched their stock price $AX­ON col­lapse af­ter the biotech found­ed by the youth­ful for­mer hedge fund man­ag­er Vivek Ra­maswamy was forced to con­cede that its lead drug was worth­less.

David Hung

To­day, the com­pa­ny led by CEO David Hung fol­lowed up with the ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly em­bar­rass­ing ad­mis­sion that it man­aged to in­cor­rect­ly re­port the p val­ue for the one clear­ly pos­i­tive end­point they had tout­ed as a sign that the biotech’s sec­ond drug, nelotanserin, was wor­thy of a piv­otal tri­al.

In­stead of min­ing a pos­i­tive end­point from the da­ta on nelotanserin, post hoc, they had an­oth­er fail to ex­plain. And it was bad.

Tues­day morn­ing Ax­o­vant put out a re­lease that their post-hoc sub­set analy­sis of Parkin­son’s pa­tients with a base­line SAPS-PD score greater than 8.0 (n=19) showed that a 40 mg for two weeks fol­lowed by 80 mg for two weeks did in­deed re­sult in a 1.21 point im­prove­ment.


That p=0.011 fig­ure they post­ed was wrong. In fact, it was an in­fi­nite­ly worse p=0.531. In­stead of find­ing some rea­son for hope, the da­ta in­di­cat­ed Ax­o­vant had even more rea­son to doubt suc­cess. And in­stead of go­ing to the FDA look­ing for guid­ance on next steps in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the drug for de­men­tia with Lewy bod­ies (DLB) pa­tients with mo­tor deficits as well as pa­tients with more se­vere base­line psy­chot­ic symp­toms, they’ll be stick­ing with DLB.

Vivek Ra­maswamy

This, in the biotech world, is what is tech­ni­cal­ly called a world-class mess up. Ex­cept they don’t use the word mess.

Ra­maswamy has been able to raise $2 bil­lion from in­vestors based on his claim that the can find as­sets on the shelves of bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies and quick­ly hus­tle them to ap­provals. To­day, the biotech ex­ec — who had been straight­for­ward in pre­sent­ing the first key fail­ure for Alzheimer’s — is keep­ing a low pro­file as the com­pa­ny tries to set the record straight on the num­bers.

It’s not a good week for the com­pa­ny.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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