Bain’s Adam Kop­pel com­mits $350M to launch­ing a new biotech that is carv­ing out Pfiz­er’s neu­ro pipeline

Adam Kop­pel and his team at Bain Cap­i­tal are carv­ing out the neu­ro­sciences pipeline that Pfiz­er shut­tered at the be­gin­ning of the year, set­ting aside $350 mil­lion to back a start­up called Cerev­el which will now take con­trol of the work.

All of the mon­ey for this deal — to be an­nounced lat­er Tues­day morn­ing — is com­ing from Bain Cap­i­tal Pri­vate Eq­ui­ty and Kop­pel’s Bain Cap­i­tal Life Sci­ences.

Doug Gior­dano

Pfiz­er star­tled the neu­ro­sciences world at the be­gin­ning of this year with its de­ci­sion to abrupt­ly bow out of the field — ax­ing about 300 staffers in the process. Now Kop­pel is work­ing on re­cruit­ing his own team, which will be charged with tak­ing their 10 pro­grams through a planned Phase III, a Phase II and a slate of pre­clin­i­cal and ear­ly-stage work.

“This is a very unique deal for Bain Cap­i­tal,” Kop­pel tells me. But it’s al­so not like­ly the last time the pri­vate eq­ui­ty group will stand up new com­pa­nies like this. He com­pares it to Spring­Works, a com­pa­ny fund­ed by Bain, Or­biMed and oth­ers that took a slate of 4 drug pro­grams off the shelves of Pfiz­er last fall and point­ed them back in­to de­vel­op­ment.

The start­up al­so pops up in the wake of a sim­i­lar deal at Al­lo­gene, which raced to pick up Pfiz­er’s off-the-shelf CAR-T work and bar­rel straight in­to a record-set­ting IPO to back the play by Arie Bellde­grun and David Chang. In Al­lo­gene’s case though, the part­ners were gift­ed with a team of 40 Pfiz­er re­searchers who were deeply en­gaged in the process.

In this case, Kop­pel says they are bring­ing over a few Pfiz­er staffers, but not many. “There are a cou­ple of key peo­ple com­ing over, but it’s not a lot, as we are large­ly fo­cused on build­ing out a team,” he notes.

Aside from Pfiz­er’s BACE drug, which is be­ing left aside in the wake of a de­fin­i­tive late-stage fail­ure for the lead BACE at Mer­ck, Cerev­el is get­ting every­thing Pfiz­er had, with plans to be ful­ly op­er­a­tional in Q1 2019.

Mor­ris Birn­baum

Pfiz­er, which gets 25% of the eq­ui­ty in Cerev­el in ex­change for the pipeline, al­so plans to stay di­rect­ly en­gaged at the com­pa­ny, with Doug Gior­dano, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of world­wide busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, and Mor­ris Birn­baum, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, CSO of in­ter­nal med­i­cine, join­ing the board along­side Kop­pel and Chris Gor­don, an­oth­er man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Bain.

Kop­pel is still keep­ing many of his cards close to his vest. He’s not say­ing how many staffers he ex­pects to re­cruit for the ini­tial ef­fort. An IPO may even­tu­al­ly be one way to go, but it’s not on his agen­da for dis­cussing with writ­ers to­day. 

The com­pa­ny won’t lack for mon­ey; Bain is ready to put up more cash if nec­es­sary.

Says Kop­pel: “This com­pa­ny will be well fund­ed.”

Their mon­ey will go to a late-stage D1 par­tial ag­o­nist, which Kop­pel ex­pects to en­ter Phase III next year as they ex­plore the drug’s po­ten­tial for con­trol­ling symp­toms of Parkin­son’s. A Phase II-ready se­lec­tive GA­BA 2/3 ag­o­nist will start off in an epilep­sy pro­gram. The com­pa­ny al­so has ac­tive pro­grams in ear­ly de­vel­op­ment, dis­cov­ery and a re­search pro­gram in neu­roin­flam­ma­tion. 

I sug­gest­ed that neu­ro­sciences, which has seen a va­ri­ety of Big Phar­mas bow out in the wake of fear­some fail­ure rates, was a tough field to jump in­to. But Kop­pel didn’t agree, cit­ing cas­es where Sage, Neu­ro­crine and oth­ers have been mak­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for them­selves.

The key here, he says, is whether a lean­er, mean­er biotech ma­chine can more ef­fi­cient­ly de­vel­op this pipeline of drugs, which is an idea that Pfiz­er is wide open to. And if it works, they can be one of the lead­ing biotechs in the field as well.


Im­age: Adam Kop­pel. BAIN

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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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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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.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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

UP­DAT­ED: 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)

UP­DAT­ED: 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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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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