#BIO22: Fire­side chat with Zachary Bren­nan and Ian Thomp­son

Zachary Brennan:

Hello, and welcome to today’s Fireside Chat. I’m Zachary Brennan, senior editor at Endpoints News and with me today is Ian Thompson, senior vice president of Amgen.

Today we’ll be discussing the evolution of the US biosimilar space, which has seen not only a slow start when we compare to our European counterparts, but also long delays between when certain biosimilars win approval and when they actually launch in the US market. So, first off I wanted to start by welcoming Ian and I also wanted to hear his take on how he’s seen the momentum building around the biosimilar industry in recent years, and maybe why he thinks that is the case that has been building more in recent years.

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Image courtesy of The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Pro­tect­ing the glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem – what’s at stake?

We are living in a new era of healthcare that is rapidly advancing progress impacting patient outcomes and experiences. We’ve seen a remarkable pace of transformational innovation, applied research, and advanced clinical development over the last decade.

Despite this tremendous progress, there is much more work to be done, and patients are counting on us – now more than ever – to continue that momentum. At the heart of our industry is a focus on developing and delivering medicines for some of the world’s most challenging diseases, including those that have few or no effective treatments today.

Roger Perlmutter, Eikon Therapeutics CEO

Roger Perl­mut­ter builds Eikon's pipeline with deal-mak­ing flur­ry, rais­ing $106M more

Eikon Therapeutics announced three business development deals on Thursday, effectively dropping in a pipeline of cancer drugs alongside more than $100 million in fresh funding.

The Hayward, CA-based company has become one of biotech’s richest startups since its 2019 founding, having raised nearly $775 million. It’s developing a massive, automated research approach built around Nobel Prize-winning microscope science to peer inside cells and watch proteins in action. After its Series B last year, PitchBook reported a $3.02 billion valuation. And while CEO Roger Perlmutter declined to comment on that figure, he said its first tranche of nearly $106 million in Series C funding is a “meaningful step-up to our Series B valuation.”

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Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment calls mem­ber states to ac­tion on an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance

Members of the European Parliament have called on EU countries to develop national action plans against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), calling it a top-three priority health threat.

Parliament on Thursday announced recommendations for the fight against AMR, including national action plans that must be updated at least every two years, an EU-level database tracking AMR and antimicrobial use and increased partnership between the pharma industry, patient groups and academia.

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Bausch + Lomb to pro­mote three SVPs to ex­ec­u­tive team

Bausch + Lomb is making more executive change-ups, including the promotion of three of its senior VPs that will report directly to CEO Brent Saunders.

Earlier this year, Saunders returned to lead Bausch + Lomb and its roughly 12,000 employees after originally running the company from 2010 to 2013.

Bausch + Lomb said Thursday that Luc Bonnefoy, John Ferris and Yang Yang — the leaders of its surgical, consumer and vision care businesses, respectively — will join the executive management team and report directly to Saunders. It also said that Joseph Gordon, head of global consumer, surgical and vision care, is now a strategic advisor to Saunders.

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Bay­er buys li­cense to Cedil­la pre­clin­i­cal can­cer pro­gram; MEI Phar­ma says no to un­so­licit­ed of­fer

Bayer has acquired exclusive rights to Cedilla Therapeutics’ preclinical cancer drug candidates for an undisclosed amount.

Bayer announced Thursday morning that it is acquiring the license for Cedilla’s preclinical Cyclin E1/CDK2 complex inhibitors. Cyclin E1 activates CDK2, and the two drive cancer progression and are overexpressed in cancer cells.

Bayer did not disclose what indications it will be pursuing under this partnership. The deal is structured traditionally — Bayer will pay Cedilla an undisclosed amount upfront, and the latter is also eligible for potential development and commercial milestones and royalties. — Lei Lei Wu

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Roche plans to di­vest from lega­cy Genen­tech man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Cal­i­for­nia

Roche is planning to make some changes to its subsidiary’s manufacturing network in California.

The Swiss pharma announced Wednesday that it plans to divest from Genentech’s manufacturing facility in Vacaville, CA, around 58 miles northeast of San Francisco. According to a statement from Roche, the move is part of a “broader strategy” to bring its manufacturing capabilities in line with its future pipeline. Roche is starting the process of finding a buyer for the site but has not named any candidates yet.

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Far­al­lon says it's won all de­sired board seats from Ex­elix­is af­ter share­hold­er vote

Less than two months after Farallon Capital Management launched a proxy fight to gain control of three seats on cancer biotech Exelixis’ board, it got what it wanted at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

The hedge fund said Wednesday that preliminary results at Exelixis’ annual shareholder meeting elected all three of Farallon’s candidates to the board: Tom Heyman, Dave Johnson and Bob Oliver.

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Peter van de Sande, Synaffix CEO

Lon­za shells out $107M cash to snap up Synaf­fix and its ADC plat­form

After lining up a string of partnerships over the years, Dutch antibody-drug conjugate specialist Synaffix has found a new home: Lonza, the contract development and manufacturing giant.

Lonza is paying about $107 million (€100 million) in cash to acquire Synaffix, with up to $64 million (€60 million) in “additional performance-based consideration” on the table. Synaffix’s ADC tech platform will now become part of Lonza’s offering for biopharma clients, lending its bioconjugate technologies to not just ADCs but also targeted gene therapy, immune cell engagers and other applications.

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Who's con­fi­dent­ly in­vest­ing in biotech star­tups dur­ing these tense days? We've got some an­swers

We’ve got a changeup to our event schedule in Boston next week, where we’ll be doing a mix of live/streaming events at our base at The Seaport Hotel as part of a two-day lineup of webinars, virtual firesides and a cocktail hour Q&A with a veteran of the biotech financing scene.

The 9:30-10:30 am ET live slot on Tuesday, June 6, will now feature a panel conversation on the current state of affairs for VC investing in biotech, focusing on what startups are getting cash — and how. Alaa Halawa, head of US ventures at Mubadala, is confirmed, along with Brian Goodman at MPM and Geoff von Maltzahn, a general partner at Moderna-buoyed Flagship. I have a couple of other invites out and will let you know how that plays out.

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