Bio­gen climbs high­er on Spin­raza sales; inks deal for two new neu­ro­mus­cu­lar drugs

Bio­gen is climb­ing on the Nas­daq Tues­day morn­ing fol­low­ing news that it’s ac­quired two ear­ly-stage drugs for neu­ro­mus­cu­lar dis­or­ders, adding to the com­pa­ny’s pipeline of po­ten­tial pay­outs.

The an­nounce­ment came wrapped in the biotech gi­ant’s sec­ond quar­ter fi­nan­cial state­ments, which al­so not­ed Bio­gen’s Spin­raza sales had climbed to $423 mil­lion in Q2, more than dou­ble the sec­ond quar­ter fig­ure in the same pe­ri­od last year.

Michel Vounatsos, Bio­gen CEO

While sales could eas­i­ly have spiked the com­pa­ny’s stock — which is up 7.5% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing — it’s al­so pos­si­ble in­vestors are hap­py to see Bio­gen adding R&D projects to its queue. The fi­nan­cial state­ment not­ed Bio­gen was buy­ing two drugs from Thou­sand Oaks, CA-based Alive­G­en. Bio­gen could pay up to $562.5 mil­lion for the two drugs if all mile­stones are met. Up­front, how­ev­er, the com­pa­ny on­ly wrote a check for $27.5 mil­lion.

In ex­change, it’s get­ting a Phase Ia drug called ALG-801 (now known as BI­IB110) and pre­clin­i­cal can­di­date ALG-802. Bio­gen says the two drugs “rep­re­sent nov­el ways of tar­get­ing the myo­statin path­way, which is one of the most thor­ough­ly stud­ied ap­proach­es for mus­cle en­hance­ment.” Both drug can­di­dates are re­com­bi­nant pro­teins that act as Ac­tRI­IB lig­and traps to in­hib­it myo­statin path­way sig­nal­ing. Bio­gen said their tar­get­ed mech­a­nism of ac­tion might de­liv­er bet­ter ef­fi­ca­cy and safe­ty than oth­er myo­statin ap­proach­es.

To start, Bio­gen plans to study both drugs in spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy (SMA) and amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis (ALS).

This pur­chase comes just a few weeks af­ter Bio­gen an­nounced a small­er deal, when it picked up an op­tion on a throm­bolyt­ic agent that could pro­tect acute is­chemic stroke pa­tients. That deal was with TMS, a com­pa­ny led by Pro­fes­sor Kei­ji Ha­su­mi’s team of sci­en­tists from Tokyo Uni­ver­si­ty of Agri­cul­ture and Tech­nol­o­gy. For that, they paid $18 mil­lion up­front with $335 mil­lion in mile­stones.

An­a­lysts have been wait­ing for Bio­gen to do some­thing that can whip some en­thu­si­asm for the com­pa­ny’s pipeline, which has been light on near-term stock cat­a­lysts. These deals prob­a­bly aren’t it, but they do un­der­score the com­pa­ny’s plod­ding strat­e­gy for adding on new drugs to the pipeline.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.