Frank Reynolds (file photo)

Boston ju­ry finds biotech CEO guilty of fleec­ing in­vestors, ob­struc­tion of jus­tice

The biotech CEO who promised to end “thou­sands of years of mor­phine and opi­ate ad­dic­tion” and al­leged­ly told in­vestors they could re­al­ize huge gains by in­vest­ing in his com­pa­ny — which he said was worth $1 bil­lion dol­lars be­fore it rapid­ly ran out of cash — has been con­vict­ed of fraud by a Boston ju­ry.

Frank Reynolds, CEO of Pixar­Bio and for­mer head of In­Vi­vo Ther­a­peu­tics, was found guilty of ly­ing to in­vestors to dri­ve up the stock price, Law360 re­port­ed. He was con­vict­ed on all counts, in­clud­ing se­cu­ri­ties fraud, ma­nip­u­la­tive trad­ing and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

Pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused Reynolds of false­ly telling in­vestors that Pixar­Bio had raised $30 mil­lion and was with­in two years of bring­ing a re­place­ment for opi­oid painkillers to mar­ket. Ken­neth Strom­s­land, the for­mer VP of in­vestor re­la­tions at Pixar­Bio, tes­ti­fied that Reynolds led in­vestors to be­lieve that the com­pa­ny was in talks to be bought by Pur­due Phar­ma, the mak­ers of Oxy­Con­tin.

Strom­s­land, along with M Jay Herod, a friend of Reynolds, pled guilty to fraud charges ear­li­er this year.

Reynolds’ de­fense at­tor­ney, David Ax­el­rod, ar­gued Reynolds had an “hon­est­ly held, sin­cere be­lief” that the com­pa­ny would suc­ceed.

Found­ed in 2013, Pixar­Bio re­verse merged its way on­to the pub­lic mar­ket in 2016, while Reynolds tout­ed his con­nec­tions to the fa­mous MIT pro­fes­sor Robert Langer. Bare­ly a year af­ter they an­nounced their stock was over­sub­scribed with an ex­pect­ed $30 mil­lion raised, the com­pa­ny ap­peared to be in sham­bles. Amid an SEC in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they re­duced staff from 27 to 10 and were forced to leave their $23,341 per-month Med­ford of­fice for a $3,003 of­fice in Salem, New Hamp­shire. The in­dict­ments came in April 2018.

The three be­gan trad­ing de­cep­tive­ly to raise the stock price in 2016, pros­e­cu­tors al­leged, and con­tin­ued in­to 2017.  They co­or­di­nat­ed moves and at times paid ar­ti­fi­cial­ly high stock prices in or­der to raise the com­pa­ny’s val­ue, the gov­ern­ment said.

An SEC com­plaint said the com­pa­ny raised $12.7 mil­lion from 211 in­vestors. Some of those in­vestors launched a class ac­tion suit against the com­pa­ny.

In ad­di­tion to in­vestors, Strom­s­land and the pros­e­cu­tor de­scribed Reynolds mis­lead­ing em­ploy­ees in some­times fan­ci­ful ways. Strom­s­land said Reynolds told peo­ple he was par­a­lyzed from a back in­jury and gave em­ploy­ees a signed pic­ture of the ceil­ing he stared up at for 7 years, ac­cord­ing to Law360. US at­tor­ney Leslie Wright said Reynolds lied about cur­ing his own paral­y­sis.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Vas Narasimhan's 'Wild Card' drugs: No­var­tis CEO high­lights po­ten­tial jack­pots, as well as late-stage stars, in R&D pre­sen­ta­tion

Novartis is always one of the industry’s biggest R&D spenders. As they often do toward the end of each year, company execs are highlighting the drugs they expect will most likely be winners in 2021.

And they’re also dreaming about some potential big-time lottery tickets.

As part of its annual investor presentation Tuesday, where the company allows investors and analysts to virtually schmooze with the bigwigs, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan will outline what he thinks are the pharma’s “Wild Cards.” The slate of five experimental drugs are those that Novartis hopes can be high-risk, high-reward entrants into the market over the next half-decade or so, and cover a wide range of indications.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Pur­due Phar­ma pleads guilty in fed­er­al Oxy­Con­tin probe, for­mal­ly rec­og­niz­ing it played a part in the opi­oid cri­sis

Purdue Pharma, the producer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, admitted Tuesday that, yes, it did contribute to America’s opioid epidemic.

The drugmaker formally pleaded guilty to three criminal charges, the AP reported, including getting in the way of the DEA’s efforts to combat the crisis, failing to prevent the painkillers from ending up on the black market and encouraging doctors to write more painkiller prescriptions through two methods: paying them in a speakers program and directing a medical records company to send them certain patient information. Purdue’s plea deal calls for $8.3 billion in criminal fines and penalties, but the company is only liable for a fraction of that total — $225 million.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Frank Zhang (AP Images)

Plot thick­ens around Leg­end Biotech, Gen­Script with founder Frank Zhang's ar­rest

Two months after Legend Biotech made the startling disclosure that founder and then-CEO Frank Zhang was placed under “residential surveillance,” its parent company revealed that he’s been formally arrested.

Zhang — who, since founding GenScript 18 years ago, has taken the CRO public and groomed Legend Biotech in-house until the J&J-partnered CAR-T player was mature enough for its own Nasdaq listing — is severing his final ties with both. He is resigning as board chair/non-executive director of GenScript and director of Legend.

Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.