Biotech ex­ecs pre­dict big M&A deals ahead as mood shifts in wake of a 2018 hang­over — End­points 100

It’s time once again to feel the pulse of the biotech industry. 

In our latest survey of the Endpoints 100 — a collection of biotech execs dominated by CEOs of largely small and medium-sized companies — we gathered 80 responses. And they reflected a common sense of belief in the industry’s financial strengths at the start of 2019, the need for drug pricing reform, a general acceptance — with some big caveats — for the need to attend #JPM20 and a reevaluation of the way biotech assets will be valued and sold in the year ahead.

We detected:

— A distinct surge of support for any changes in the drug pricing system we have now that would provide some added transparency for the public. The administration’s suggested end to rebates is generally popular.

— A pronounced level of caution over the hype we’re hearing regarding AI in drug discovery and development.

— A sense of duty accompanied by a deep-seated level of animosity regarding our annual migration to attend JPMorgan, topped by a layer of discontent when it comes to San Francisco sprinkled with a little gung-ho enthusiasm for limitless deal talks.

— A general sense of optimism for the year ahead, with a strong current of appreciation for access to capital and a major shift in sentiment regarding the E100’s evaluation of IPOs and biotech valuations even as M&A turns hot, hot, hot. The go-go days of 2018 are clearly over.

Who’s next on the M&A list? There’s no shortage of suggestions and plenty of forecasts that the Bristol-Myers/Celgene alliance won’t work out.

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Turn­ing the cor­ner on treat­ing the root cause of sick­le cell dis­ease

Early in my career, as a medical resident, I saw first-hand the enormous challenges faced by children and adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic blood disorder that historically has lacked adequate treatment options. People living with this life-long disease are mainly those with ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa, as well as people of Hispanic, South Asian, Southern European and Middle Eastern descent. These patients suffer from devastating physical symptoms, including progressive, eventually fatal, organ damage and excruciating pain. In addition, they encounter emotional, mental and social burdens – non-physical aspects of living with SCD that also take a serious toll on patients and their caregivers.

Es­sen­tial cri­te­ria bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­vestors seek when eval­u­at­ing com­pounds and com­pa­nies

Currently, 81 percent of the biopharmaceutical projects in the global development pipeline are owned by small-to mid-sized companies*. These emerging companies have many challenges in furthering their development of new and exciting projects. Whether a company seeks to out-license, commercialize a compound, or position itself for acquisition, success often depends on investments. These investments can come from fully integrated pharmaceutical companies and/or venture capitalists. And, ultimately, the company’s success in securing investment can mean the development of new treatments for the patients who need them most.
Compound investment: attributes investors value the most
While clinical performance (safety and efficacy) is by far the most important investment attribute for both large biopharmaceutical companies and venture capitalists, there are differences in how they consider other compound attributes.

Rev­o­lu­tion Med shoots for $100M+ IPO — and di­vulges some se­crets about that Warp Dri­ve buy­out

Biotech investors who like to wager on the race to the front of the KRAS market now have a new team to consider.

Revolution Medicines, which extended its reach on RAS with a deal to acquire Warp Drive Bio about 18 months ago, filed their S-1 in search of $100 million-plus. And they gave up a few secrets in the process.

The main clinical claim to fame that Revolution has centers on the SHP2 inhibitor RMC-4630, partnered with Sanofi back in the summer of 2018 — just after John Reed was named the incoming R&D chief. We already knew that the pharma giant handed over $50 million in cash plus a commitment of hundreds of millions more to align itself with Revolution as it makes a fresh foray into oncology. Now we know that Sanofi is also footing 80% of Revolution’s R&D bill on the program, while setting up a smorgasbord of $235 million in development milestones and $285 million in commercial bonuses.

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Endpoints@JPM: (left to right) Steve Pearson, Nick Leschly, Bari Talente, Stephen Ubl, John Carroll

#JPM20: 'The NPV is al­ways wrong.' Take­da preps an­oth­er spin­out — this time on psych

Editor’s Note: Endpoints News is reporting live from #JPM20 after kicking things off with an action-packed event, which you can replay here. What follows is a stream of tidbits we have collected while wandering around Union Square in San Francisco. Check back in throughout the week for updates by John Carroll and Jason Mast.

SAN FRANCISCO — A year ago Takeda CEO Christophe Weber and R&D chief Andy Plump arrived at JP Morgan right on the heels of closing their big Shire buyout. Now they’re back after shaking up the portfolio, boosting R&D spending by about 50% to $4.5 billion and adjusting the pipeline — a task which isn’t quite finished yet.

Olivier Brandicourt, AP Images

#JPM20 ex­clu­sive: Olivi­er Brandi­court fol­lows the Big Phar­ma CEO path to pri­vate eq­ui­ty, join­ing Black­stone ahead of a mam­moth fund de­but

Nick Galakatos Blackstone

Seven months after Olivier Brandicourt’s surprise “early retirement” from Sanofi, he’s back in the game, this time taking meetings at JP Morgan to discuss his new role at Blackstone, where he’s quietly begun work with Nick Galakatos and the life sciences crew.

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Video Re­play: End­points at #JPM20 — news­mak­ers on deal­mak­ing, pric­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing

On Monday, we held our fourth annual #JPM event — and the team hit a key milestone that I’d like to share with the entire Endpoints News audience: We live-streamed the conversation and had nearly triple the number of executives watching online than we had in the sold-out crowd of 320.

For a media company on a mission to connect the biopharma world in bigger and better ways, we’re proud of how we were able to extend the reach of our franchise event. Paid subscribers were given access to the stream in real time, and now, two days later, we’re opening it up to everyone in this post.

Nick Leschly at Endpoints News' panel at the 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Credit: Jeff Rumans

At #JPM20, two CEOs, two rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent ther­a­pies, and a fight to chase down sick­le cell

SAN FRANCISCO – Few CEOs tell a story better than bluebird’s Nick Leschly.

He cuts a Jeff Bezos figure on stage at the Colonial Room, the JP Morgan presentation hall for A-list biotechs: lean and bald, fast-talking and vest-wearing. He explains in simple language, apologizing when he has to brush on the data. It helps that he has a good story to tell.

“We treated them one time,” Leschly tells a packed crowd, gesturing to the slide behind him. “Look what happened.”

The slide shows 9 horizontal bars studded with diamonds. Each bar, he explained, represented a sickle cell patient, and each diamond represented a severe medical event, such as a pain crisis. The diamonds stud one side – before the therapy – and vanish on the other, afterward.

“A 99% reduction in these events — this is a functional cure for sickle cell disease,” Leschly says. “This is unprecedented data.”

Upstairs and an hour later, Ted Love stands before a narrow conference room in his suit and polka-dot tie. Love, the CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics, is a 60-year-old physician. His voice trails off at the end of sentences, and the story he tells is less compelling. There are no cured patients.

“This is the first drug that addresses the root cause of sickle cell disease,” Love says, speaking in front of a slide showing a white pill bottle for GBT’s new drug Oxbryta. “Right in the label, it says that this drug inhibits polymerization.”

In the 60 years after scientists discovered the cause of sickle cell, almost no treatments emerged, even as the condition debilitated hundreds of thousands of Americans, most of them black or Hispanic. But the last few years have seen a resurgence of interest as new technologies have made the disease seem newly beatable.

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Piaoyang Sun (ALAMY)

Chi­na’s fourth rich­est man takes a back seat at the top drug­mak­er he built

After spending the past 30 years transforming Jiangsu Hengrui Medicines from just another manufacturer of dirt cheap over-the-counter pills to a top 25 global biopharma player, Piaoyang Sun is taking a step back.

The billionaire is handing over the chairman role to Zhou Yunshu, his right-hand man and president of the company, Hengrui said in a statement. But Sun will stay on the board and continue to lead the strategy committee.

No­vo Nordisk's block­buster Ozem­pic wins FDA la­bel boost with CV in­di­ca­tion

Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster weekly injectable formulation of semaglutide — Ozempic — has secured an even more formidable label. Apart from its ability to stimulate insulin production in patients with diabetes, the FDA has now also endorsed its ability to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.

Patients with diabetes are often afflicted with other comorbidities, such as obesity, CV disease, and kidney problems. Diabetes drugmakers have been clamoring for a broader market share by differentiating their drugs on the basis of therapeutic impact on these intersecting indications — but the major, most lucrative battleground is the heart.

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