Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Al­most all of the drug in­dus­try’s biggest ad­ver­tis­ers cut their spend­ing on Twit­ter to ze­ro or near-ze­ro over the last two weeks amid wor­ries about im­per­son­ation of their brands by pranksters and the fu­ture of the so­cial me­dia com­pa­ny.

Among 18 of the biggest phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ad­ver­tis­ers in the US mar­ket, 12 cut their Twit­ter ad spend­ing to noth­ing for the week be­gin­ning Nov. 14, ac­cord­ing to Path­mat­ics, which tracks da­ta on pre­scrip­tion drug ad spend­ing as well as gen­er­al cor­po­rate ad­ver­tis­ing. The list of drug­mak­ers cut­ting spend­ing to ze­ro in­cludes Mer­ck, As­traZeneca, Eli Lil­ly, No­var­tis, Pfiz­er and oth­ers.

Six com­pa­nies showed some spend­ing on Twit­ter ads last week, ac­cord­ing to the da­ta. But for most, the amounts are a few hun­dred or a few thou­sand dol­lars. The sole out­lier is Ger­man drug­mak­er Bay­er, which spent $480,000 last week, a huge jump from the weeks pri­or. Path­mat­ics’ da­ta for Bay­er al­so cap­tures over-the-counter drug ad spend­ing, which could skew the re­sults.

Bay­er said in a state­ment to End­points News: “We con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor de­vel­op­ments at Twit­ter and reg­u­lar­ly as­sess our po­si­tion. We do not re­lease our ad­ver­tis­ing spend.”

While drug com­pa­nies have nev­er been mas­sive ad spenders on Twit­ter, the sud­den change high­lights just how quick­ly some ma­jor brands have pulled back from the so­cial me­dia com­pa­ny in the wake of its takeover by new own­er Elon Musk.

Musk closed his pur­chase of Twit­ter in the fi­nal days of Oc­to­ber, and cor­po­rate brands soon af­ter faced a wave of pranks and im­per­son­ation af­ter Musk launched a pro­gram to sell ver­i­fied badges — pre­vi­ous­ly a mark­er than an ac­count was “of­fi­cial” — to any­one for $8 per month. Eli Lil­ly faced one of the high­est-pro­file such spoofs, from a fake ac­count that sprung up and claimed that the com­pa­ny’s in­sulin was now free.

Eli Lil­ly’s of­fi­cial ac­count @Lil­ly­Pad is still on­line, but with no new tweets since Nov. 10, when the im­poster ac­count spoofed the com­pa­ny. Lil­ly ex­ec­u­tives scram­bled to get the tweet pulled, but it took hours for Twit­ter to re­spond, and Lil­ly’s stock tum­bled by more than 4% by the next day, de­spite gains in the broad­er mar­ket. The $8 ver­i­fied pro­gram was sus­pend­ed soon af­ter.

Lil­ly and oth­er top phar­ma ad­ver­tis­ers all ei­ther de­clined to com­ment or did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on their ad­ver­tis­ing spend­ing.

On Nov. 10, the same day of the fake Eli Lil­ly tweet, Musk an­nounced a new pol­i­cy say­ing that par­o­dy ac­counts would on­ly be al­lowed if they iden­ti­fied them­selves in their name. “Ba­si­cal­ly, trick­ing peo­ple is not ok,” he said in a tweet. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Twit­ter didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

The ad pull­back doesn’t mean phar­ma is leav­ing Twit­ter en­tire­ly. Phar­ma cor­po­rate ac­counts are still up, with some con­tin­u­ing to post news and up­dates. For ex­am­ple, Mer­ck post­ed from its ac­count, which now sports the new gray “Of­fi­cial” lo­go, four days ago, an­nounc­ing the Eu­ro­pean ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee’s pos­i­tive opin­ion for its metasta­t­ic prostate can­cer med. Pfiz­er and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb have al­so se­cured gray “of­fi­cial” check­marks, which Twit­ter is us­ing in place of the “ver­i­fied” check­mark badges for some cor­po­rate brands, me­dia out­lets or oth­er ma­jor pub­lic fig­ures.

Lil­ly’s Twit­ter ac­count does not yet have the new gray of­fi­cial ac­count check as of Fri­day morn­ing.

Phar­ma ad­ver­tis­er con­cerns are noth­ing new on Twit­ter. The tra­di­tion­al­ly con­ser­v­a­tive phar­ma in­dus­try has long been wary of the po­ten­tial for ads placed next to con­tro­ver­sial mes­sages and posts.

“It’s fair for phar­ma brands to be more con­ser­v­a­tive and have even more ques­tions now around large scale ad­ver­tis­ing on Twit­ter when there’s more un­cer­tain­ty about how their brand is go­ing to be po­si­tioned,” The Har­ris Poll’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rob Jekielek said.

On the oth­er side of Twit­ter, the so-called or­gan­ic brand ac­counts and peo­ple in gen­er­al are not go­ing away. As Musk him­self has been point­ing out all week, Twit­ter use is at all-time high. The Har­ris Poll would agree, Jekielek not­ed, as its track­ing of phar­ma and health­care ex­perts and dis­cus­sions on Twit­ter haven’t dropped off at all.

Ed­i­tor’s note: This sto­ry has been up­dat­ed with a state­ment from Bay­er.

Up­dat­ed: FDA re­mains silent on or­phan drug ex­clu­siv­i­ty af­ter last year's court loss

Since losing a controversial court case over orphan drug exclusivity last year, the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development has remained entirely silent on orphan exclusivity for any product approved since last November, leaving many sponsors in limbo on what to expect.

That silence means that for more than 70 orphan-designated indications for more than 60 products, OOPD has issued no public determination on the seven-year orphan exclusivity in the Orange Book, and no new listings of orphan exclusivity appear in OOPD’s searchable database, as highlighted recently by George O’Brien, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, DC office.

Tim Pearson, Carrick Therapeutics CEO

Pfiz­er backs $60M in­fu­sion in­to Car­rick, teams up on breast can­cer treat­ment

In a big week for Carrick Therapeutics, the company announced $60 million in funding for its lead breast cancer drug and development of a second program, as well as a collaboration with Pfizer for combo development.

The $35 million from Pfizer comes with an agreement under which Pfizer will support Carrick’s Phase II study of samuraciclib in combination with Pfizer’s Faslodex for advanced breast cancer. Along with the investment, Adam Schayowitz, vice president and development head of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma at Pfizer global product development, will join Carrick’s scientific advisory board.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (ROMUALD MEIGNEUX/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and Am­gen are bring­ing cash to cov­er the ta­ble stakes for the Hori­zon M&A game

With the market cap on Horizon Therapeutics $HZNP pushed up to the $23 billion mark today, one of the Big Pharmas in the hunt for a major league buyout deal signaled it’s playing the M&A game with cash.

Paris-based Sanofi, where CEO Paul Hudson has been largely focused on some risky biotech acquisitions to win some respect for its future pipeline prospects, issued a statement early Friday — complying with rule 2.12 of the Irish takeover rules — making clear that while the certainty or size of an offer can’t be determined, any offer “will be solely in cash.” And Amgen CEO Robert Bradway came right in behind him, filing a statement on the London Stock Exchange overnight that any offer they may make will “likely” be in cash as well.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

Twit­ter dis­ar­ray con­tin­ues as phar­ma ad­ver­tis­ers ex­tend paus­es and look around for op­tions, but keep tweet­ing

Pharma advertisers on Twitter are done — at least for now. Ad spending among the previous top spenders flattened even further last week, according to the latest data from ad tracker Pathmatics, amid ongoing turmoil after billionaire boss Elon Musk’s takeover now one month ago.

Among 18 top advertisers tracked for Endpoints News, only two are spending: GSK and Bayer. GSK spending for the full week through Sunday was minimal at just under $1,900. Meanwhile, German drugmaker Bayer remains the industry outlier upping its spending to $499,000 last week from $480,000 the previous week. Bayer’s spending also marks a big increase from a month ago and before the Musk takeover, when it spent $16,000 per week.

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Thomas Gad, Y-mAbs Therapeutics founder and interim CEO

FDA re­jects Y-mAbs’ neu­rob­las­toma drug af­ter tak­ing is­sue with clin­i­cal tri­al de­sign

Uncertainty about clinical trial evidence has led the FDA to hand down a complete response letter for Y-mAbs’ neuroblastoma drug, casting a cloud on the future of a candidate that had gone through a long development journey in a rare pediatric cancer.

Y-mAbs said it’s disappointed “but not surprised” given that the agency’s oncology drug advisory committee had voted 16-0 against its drug’s approval a few weeks ago.

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Philip Tagari switch­es Am­gen's dis­cov­ery lab for in­sitro's ma­chine learn­ing tools; CEO Joaquin Du­a­to to chair J&J's board

In February, Philip Tagari will take a few days of retirement and then immediately return to industry. He won’t be leading the therapeutics discovery unit for a large biopharma, though.

He’ll trade in his Amgen hat for chief scientist at a machine learning startup that has reeled in hundreds of millions in capital to lay the groundwork for a much-hyped new model of drug discovery that aims to speed up the time to new clinical assets.

Raul Rodriguez, Rigel Pharma CEO

Rigel Phar­ma scores FDA ap­proval for leukemia, kick­ing off show­down with Servi­er in IDH1

When Rigel Pharma bought olutasidenib from Forma Therapeutics, it acquired a drug that already secured a PDUFA date at the FDA — for February 2023. But regulators are ready to give their OK sooner than that.

The FDA has approved the IDH1 inhibitor as a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia who have a susceptible IDH-1 (isocitrate dehydrogenase-1) mutation as detected by an FDA-greenlit test. Rigel will market it as Rezlidhia.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

As mon­ey pours in­to dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, in­sur­ance cov­er­age crawls

Talk therapy didn’t help Lily with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a video game did.

As the 10-year-old zooms through icy waters and targets flying creatures on the snow-capped planet Frigidus, she builds attention skills, thanks to Akili Interactive Labs’ video game EndeavorRx. She’s now less anxious and scattered, allowing her to stay on a low dose of ADHD medication, according to her mom Violet Vu.

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Eli Lil­ly’s Alzheimer’s drug clears more amy­loid ear­ly than Aduhelm in first-ever head-to-head. Will it mat­ter?

Ahead of the FDA’s decision on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab in February, the Big Pharma is dropping a first cut of data from one of the more interesting trials — but less important in a regulatory sense — at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Francisco.

In the unblinded 148-person study, Eli Lilly pitted its drug against Aduhelm, Biogen’s drug that won FDA approval but lost Medicare coverage outside of clinical trials. Notably, the study didn’t look at clinical outcomes, but rather the clearance of amyloid, a protein whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.

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