Biotech en­tre­pre­neur Saurabh Sa­ha moves to trans­la­tion­al re­search chief at Bris­tol-My­ers; Ex-GSK phar­ma chief Hus­sain switch­es to pri­vate eq­ui­ty

Saurabh Sa­ha

→ Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb $BMY has hired Saurabh Sa­ha to run their trans­la­tion sci­ence group, which is re­spon­si­ble for triag­ing pre­clin­i­cal work of in­ter­est and steer­ing the most promis­ing pro­grams to­ward the clin­ic. Sa­ha — a 40-year-old Johns Hop­kins grad, where he worked in Bert Vo­gel­stein’s lab — once up­on a time la­bored in­side No­var­tis’ glob­al ops, be­fore leav­ing for a string of new jobs in biotech. Nine years ago he set up a trans­la­tion­al re­search and de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion called Bio­Med Val­ley Dis­cov­er­ies. Then his role as a ven­ture part­ner at the pro­lif­ic At­las Ven­ture led him to be­come chief med­ical of­fi­cer at Syn­log­ic, fol­lowed by a brief but wild­ly suc­cess­ful stint as CEO of Delinia. Sa­ha is stay­ing in the Boston area, where Bris­tol-My­ers is build­ing a new R&D cen­ter.

→ Near the be­gin­ning of this year, Ab­bas Hus­sain an­nounced plans to leave his role as Glax­o­SmithK­line’s phar­ma chief, hand­ing over the job to Luke Miels as new CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley be­gan to as­sem­ble her own top team. And now Hus­sain has land­ed at C-Bridge Cap­i­tal, a pow­er­house Chi­nese pri­vate eq­ui­ty group which has in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in some promi­nent Asian biotechs. Hus­sain spent eight years at GSK, build­ing the phar­ma gi­ant in­to the lead vol­ume op­er­a­tion in the drug in­dus­try and rolling out a quo­ta-free sales mod­el in dozens of coun­tries around the world. He start­ed as emerg­ing mar­kets chief, with a big role in clean­ing up a bribery scan­dal in Chi­na capped with a $500 mil­lion fine. His shift to se­nior part­ner at C-Bridge — af­ter be­ing tapped as a pos­si­ble re­place­ment for GSK CEO An­drew Wit­ty — says a lot about the fast-chang­ing bio­phar­ma world we live in now and Chi­na’s grow­ing role in the in­dus­try.

→ Jeff Hat­field is be­ing giv­en the lead­ing role at Zaf­gen, which is mak­ing a come­back bid af­ter its lead drug proved un­safe. Hat­field, com­ing off his role as CEO of Vi­tae, which was sold to Al­ler­gan, will take the helm as Tom Hugh­es moves in­to a new role as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer. Hugh­es is al­so re­tain­ing the pres­i­dent’s ti­tle in the shift at Zaf­gen. Hugh­es says he’s hap­py with the change-up, not­ing: “We are ramp­ing up our clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties with ZGN-1061 now in Phase 2, and have two pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates that are ad­vanc­ing to­ward the clin­ic. We al­so have ex­cit­ing new in­sights in­to the MetAP2 path­way that war­rant an in­creased com­mit­ment to ad­vance our un­der­stand­ing of its ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial and de­vel­op new drugs lever­ag­ing its im­pact.”

→ Am­gen CEO Robert Brad­way was named chair­man-elect of PhRMA ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ate­ly. Sanofi CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court will be­come chair­man-elect and James Robin­son, pres­i­dent, Astel­las Amer­i­c­as, will as­sume the role of board trea­sur­er ef­fec­tive Feb­ru­ary 7, 2018.

→ Roche vet Nico­la Thomp­son is tak­ing the CEO post at Viri­on­HealthLau­ra Lane is on board as  COO. Abing­worth has hand­ed over a £13 mil­lion Se­ries A to the com­pa­ny for its work on new drugs for res­pi­ra­to­ry vi­ral in­fec­tions.  “We are de­light­ed to re­ceive this sup­port and will use the funds to ad­vance our nov­el pro­grammes in­to the clin­ic,” said Jef­frey Al­mond, who just joined as chair­man of Viri­on­Health. “Up­per res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tions re­main an im­por­tant un­met need which in­cludes an es­ti­mat­ed 1 bil­lion cas­es of in­fluen­za across the globe each year.”

→ Tre­vana chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer Michael Lark is head­ed to the ex­it in mid-De­cem­ber. Twen­ty-one staffers large­ly from the re­search arm are al­so be­ing cut — 30% of its to­tal work­force.

Dublin-based Ma­lin is tap­ping more of An­drew von Es­chen­bach’s time. The for­mer FDA chief has signed on as chief med­ical ad­vis­er to the biotech in­vestor, af­ter a stint in the some­what less for­mal po­si­tion of ad­vi­so­ry part­ner. Von Es­chen­bach was head of the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute for the four years pri­or to tak­ing the reins at the FDA from 2006 to 2009 un­der Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. He’s now al­so a se­nior fel­low at the Milken In­sti­tute and pres­i­dent of Samar­i­tan Health Ini­tia­tives.

→ Ex-JP­Mor­gan ex­ec and new­ly mint­ed ven­ture ex­ec Stephen Beren­son is join­ing the board at Mod­er­na, where Flag­ship chief Noubar Afeyan is chair­man of the board. Beren­son joined Flag­ship as an ex­ec­u­tive part­ner last sum­mer af­ter wrap­ping a stint as vice chair­man of in­vest­ment bank­ing.

→ Michael C. Diem is Am­i­cus Ther­a­peu­tics’ new SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. His pre­vi­ous gigs in­clude As­traZeneca and Glax­o­SmithK­line. “I am pleased to wel­come Dr. Mike Diem to our se­nior lead­er­ship team at Am­i­cus,” said Am­i­cus CEO John Crow­ley. “Mike will be a key leader for Am­i­cus as we eval­u­ate strate­gies to en­hance our port­fo­lio of lead­ing edge rare dis­ease med­i­cines and tech­nolo­gies. He will be ex­treme­ly valu­able to Am­i­cus as we con­tin­ue to build a top glob­al biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny fo­cused on dev­as­tat­ing rare dis­eases.”

→ Amyris has tak­en on Ed­uar­do Al­varez as their chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer.

→ Men­lo Ven­tures has added Greg Yap as a part­ner, he will be fo­cus­ing on life sci­ence, health and med­ical in­vest­ing.

 

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”