Boehringer backs €20B R&D game plan with a $272M blue­print for new fa­cil­i­ty — 100 new hires

Boehringer In­gel­heim is back­ing their bi­o­log­ics fo­cus in R&D with a $272 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a new fa­cil­i­ty that will add an­oth­er 100 staffers to the pay­roll.

The biotech com­pa­ny is adding a new de­vel­op­ment cen­ter in Bib­er­ach, Ger­many, which they plan to staff with 500 em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing the new hires. The pri­vate com­pa­ny is plan­ning on a stag­gered open­ing in 2020, bring­ing in the 500 em­ploy­ees while look­ing to beef up its ca­pac­i­ty on “bi­o­log­i­cals an­a­lyt­i­cal and process de­vel­op­ment as well as man­u­fac­tur­ing for clin­i­cal stud­ies in­to one seam­less unit, while at the same time in­creas­ing de­vel­op­ment ca­pac­i­ty.”

Boehringer has been on the march re­cent­ly, adding a CD47 pro­gram by in-li­cens­ing a late-pre­clin­i­cal drug that tar­gets SIRP-al­pha and pre­vents CD47 from bind­ing to it. Its ven­ture arm al­so was backed up at the be­gin­ning of this year with an ex­tra €150 mil­lion, un­der­scor­ing its in­ter­est in find­ing new com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the bi­o­log­ics are­nas it’s most in­ter­est­ed in.

The R&D or­ga­ni­za­tion at Boehringer in­cludes about 8,000 staffers now, and the com­pa­ny re­cent­ly com­mit­ted to get 15 more drugs through to an ap­proval in the next 7 years, com­mit­ting €20 bil­lion for the task. Get­ting a cou­ple of new drugs ap­proved each year is a se­ri­ous chal­lenge.

Boehringer has al­so ex­pe­ri­enced set­backs it prefers not to dis­cuss. Most no­tably, the com­pa­ny qui­et­ly slipped out of a part­ner­ship with South Ko­rea’s Han­mi af­ter the drug they were part­nered on was linked to pa­tient deaths — some­thing they man­aged to omit in their orig­i­nal state­ment. That’s a lux­u­ry on­ly pri­vate com­pa­nies can en­joy.

This is the lat­est in a se­ries of glob­al in­vest­ments, where Boehringer has been cre­at­ing a net­work of op­er­a­tions in Shang­hai, Fre­mont, CA and Vi­en­na.

“The BDC is an­oth­er key build­ing block sup­port­ing the com­pa­ny’s long-term strat­e­gy for in­creas­ing the pipeline’s share of bi­o­log­i­cals. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly dri­ven by two of our core ar­eas, im­mune on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy,” says Fridtjof Traulsen, a se­nior vice pres­i­dent at Boehringer In­gel­heim. “The share of new bi­o­log­i­cal en­ti­ties in Boehringer In­gel­heim’s re­search pipeline has been con­sis­tent­ly in­creas­ing over the past few years and has now reached forty per­cent.”


Aeriel view of Bib­er­ach, Ger­many Shut­ter­stock

Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

OWS shifts spot­light to drugs to fight Covid-19, hand­ing Re­gen­eron $450M to be­gin large scale man­u­fac­tur­ing in the US

The US government is on a spending spree. And after committing billions to vaccines defense operations are now doling out more of the big bucks through Operation Warp Speed to back a rapid flip of a drug into the market to stop Covid-19 from ravaging patients — possibly inside of 2 months.

The beneficiary this morning is Regeneron, the big biotech engaged in a frenzied race to develop an antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2 that just started a late-stage program to prove its worth in fighting the virus. BARDA and the Department of Defense are awarding Regeneron a $450 million contract to cover bulk delivery of the cocktail starting as early as late summer, with money added for fill/finish and storage activities.

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Andrew Kruegel, Kures president and co-founder (Columbia Tech Ventures via Vimeo)

Af­ter psilo­cy­bin and ke­t­a­mine, a new biotech comes along de­vel­op­ing a drug Scott Got­tlieb fought

Andrew Kruegel was six years into his chemistry work at Columbia University, when, one day in August 2016, he learned he might have only 30 days before the government made him destroy his research.

Kruegel had been studying kratom, a leaf long used in Southeast Asia as a stimulant or for pain. It had opioid-like properties, he found, but seemed to offer pain relief without the addictive potential or respiratory side effects of traditional opioids — a riddle that might help illuminate how human opioid receptors work.

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UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen shares spike as ex­ecs com­plete a de­layed pitch for their con­tro­ver­sial Alzheimer's drug — the next move be­longs to the FDA

Biogen is stepping out onto the high wire today, reporting that the team working on the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab has now completed their submission to the FDA. And they want the agency to bless it with a priority review that would cut the agency’s decision-making time to a mere 6 months.

The news drove a 10% spike in Biogen’s stock $BIIB ahead of the bell.

Part of that spike can be attributed to a relief rally. Biogen execs rattled backers and a host of analysts earlier in the year when they unexpectedly delayed their filing to the third quarter. That delay provoked all manner of speculation after CEO Michel Vounatsos and R&D chief Al Sandrock failed to persuade influential observers that the pandemic and other factors had slowed the timeline for filing. Actually making the pitch at least satisfies skeptics that the FDA was not likely pushing back as Biogen was pushing in. From the start, Biogen execs claimed that they were doing everything in cooperation with the FDA, saying that regulators had signaled their interest in reviewing the submission.

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The home run count: The $100M+ mega-round boom in biotech in­spired a $7.3B feed­ing fren­zy — so far this year

Over the last 6 months there’s been a blizzard of money piling up drifts of the green stuff through the biotech landscape. And the forecast calls for more cash windfalls ahead.

Even as a global pandemic has killed more than half a million people, blighted economies and divided nations over the proper response, it’s also helped ignite an unprecedented burst of big-time investing. And not just in Covid-19 deals, as we’ve looked at before.

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Atul Deshpande, Harbour BioMed chief strategy officer & head, US operations (Harbour BioMed)

An­oth­er biotech IPO set-up? Multi­na­tion­al biotech leaps from round to round, scoop­ing up cash at a blis­ter­ing pace

A short four months after announcing a $75 million haul in Series B+ fundraising, the multinational biotech Harbour BioMed pulled in another round of investments and eclipsed the nine-digit mark in the process.

Harbour completed its Series C financing, the company announced Thursday morning, raising $102.8 million and bringing its total investment sum to over $300 million since its founding in late 2016. The biotech plans to use the money to transition early-stage candidates from the discovery phase, fund candidates already in the clinic, and prep late-stage candidates for commercialization.

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Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A new study points to $6.5B in pub­lic sup­port build­ing the sci­en­tif­ic foun­da­tion of Gilead­'s remde­sivir. Should that be re­flect­ed in the price?

By drug R&D standards, Gilead’s move to repurpose remdesivir for Covid-19 and grab an emergency use authorization was a remarkably easy, low-cost layup that required modest efficacy and a clean safety profile from just a small group of patients.

The drug OK also arrived after Gilead had paid much of the freight on getting it positioned to move fast.

In a study by Fred Ledley, director of the Center for Integration of Science and Industry at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, researchers concluded that the NIH had invested only $46.5 million in the research devoted to the drug ahead of the pandemic, a small sum compared to the more than $1 billion Gilead expected to spend getting it out this year, all on top of what it had already cost in R&D expenses.

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For­bion spot­lights late-stage plays, carves out new €250M growth fund

Having staked its rep on picking out a mix of biotech investment opportunities across the “build,” “enable,” “growth” continuum, Forbion is launching its first fund dedicated to late-stage opportunities.

Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund’s first close brought in €185 million ($208 million). Existing investors Pantheon, KfW Capital and the European Investment Fund came on board, joined by new backers Eli Lilly, Horizon Therapeutics, Belgian Growth Fund and New Waves Investments.

Ed Engleman (Stanford Blood Center)

Stan­ford star on­col­o­gy sci­en­tist Ed En­gle­man helped cre­ate the im­munother­a­py field. Now he wants to shake up neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion R&D

Over the last generation of drug R&D, Ed Engleman has been a standout scientist.

The Stanford professor co-founded Dendreon and provided the scientific insights needed to develop Provenge into a pioneering — though not particularly marketable — immunotherapy. He’s spurred a slate of startups, assisted by his well-connected perch as a co-founder of Vivo Capital, and took the dendritic cell story into its next chapter at a startup called Bolt.

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Nello Mainolfi (Kymera via YouTube)

Out to re­vive R&D, a resur­gent Sanofi pays $150M cash to part­ner up with a pi­o­neer­ing pro­tein degra­da­tion play­er

Frank Nestle was appointed Sanofi’s global head of immunology and inflammation research therapeutic area just days before dupilumab, the blockbuster-to-be IL-4 antibody, would be accepted for priority review. After four years of consolidating immunology expertise from multiple corners of the Sanofi family and recruiting new talents to build the discovery engine, he’s set eyes on a Phase I-ready program that he believes can grow into a Dupixent-sized franchise.