John Maraganore (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen woos John Maraganore to his first VC post af­ter re­tir­ing from Al­ny­lam

Af­ter al­most two decades of pri­mar­i­ly be­ing known as Al­ny­lam’s CEO, John Maraganore is get­ting a new, promi­nent ti­tle.

Maraganore is among a slate of new ven­ture part­ners at ARCH Ven­ture, join­ing along­side ex-FDA of­fi­cial Lu­ciana Bo­rio, Jake Bauer (pre­vi­ous­ly at MyoKar­dia), Ax­el Bou­chon (for­mer head of Leaps by Bay­er) and Sabah Oney (of Alec­tor fame).

The move was hard­ly sur­pris­ing. Maraganore has made it clear that his re­tire­ment, which is sched­uled for the end of the year, sig­naled a shift in­to a new phase of his ca­reer where, in­stead of hands-on par­ent­ing, he want­ed to be like a “grand­fa­ther” to the next gen­er­a­tion of biotech star­tups, im­part­ing hard-earned wis­dom about the treach­er­ous jour­ney from the lab to mar­ket — one he per­son­al­ly shep­herd­ed Al­ny­lam and its RNAi sci­ence through.

While the biotech vet has been deeply em­bed­ded in Boston’s VC scene in a va­ri­ety of roles, he will now be do­ing it with­out the dis­trac­tion of what he called a 24/7 day job.

Bob Nelsen

Just days af­ter an­nounc­ing his de­par­ture, he quick­ly jumped on the board at Beam Ther­a­peu­tics, which he called a “true in­no­va­tor” in gene edit­ing. That was quick­ly fol­lowed by a sim­i­lar role with “gene cod­ing” com­pa­ny Sali­o­Gen. Sign­ing on, Maraganore told the CEO: “I am here to share my scars with you.”

And you can imag­ine there will be more to come.

He had sim­i­lar­ly high prais­es for ARCH, a long­time backer of Beam, prais­ing its “deep in­volve­ment in help­ing com­pa­nies har­ness break­through tech­nolo­gies to have a di­rect pos­i­tive im­pact on peo­ple’s lives.”

Armed with its largest fund yet — of $1.85 bil­lion — the Bob Nelsen-led VC firm has plen­ty of cash to build any kind of com­pa­ny they like, with men­tal health, cell ther­a­py and gene edit­ing be­ing high on the pri­or­i­ty list.

Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

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Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

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A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

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Roy Baynes, Merck

FDA bats back Mer­ck’s ‘pipeline in a prod­uct,’ de­mands more ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta

Despite some heavy blowback from analysts, Merck execs maintained an upbeat attitude about the market potential of its chronic cough drug gefapixant. But the confidence may be fading somewhat today as Merck puts out news that the FDA is handing back its application with a CRL.

Dubbed by Merck’s development chief Roy Baynes as a “pipeline in a product” with a variety of potential uses, Merck had fielded positive late-stage data demonstrating the drug’s ability to combat chronic cough. The drug dramatically reduced chronic cough in Phase III, but so did placebo, leaving Merck’s research team with a marginal success on the p-value side of the equation.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

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Amgen's Twitter campaign #DearAsthma inspired thousands of people to express struggles and frustrations with the disease

Am­gen’s #Dear­Asth­ma spon­sored tweet lands big on game day, spark­ing thou­sands to re­spond

Amgen wanted to know how people with asthma really felt about daily life with the disease. So it bought a promoted tweet on Twitter noting the not-so-simple realities of life with asthma and ended the post with a #DearAsthma hashtag, a megaphone emoji and a re-tweet button.

That was just over one week ago and the responses haven’t stopped. More than 7,000 posts so far on Twitter replied to #DearAsthma to detail struggles of daily life, expressing humor, frustration and sometimes anger. More than a few f-bombs have been typed or gif-ed in reply to communicate just how much many people “hate” the disease.