No­var­tis, Eli Lil­ly and Ab­b­Vie join grow­ing list of Big Phar­mas sev­er­ing ties with Rus­sia

Af­ter watch­ing the on­go­ing chaos of Rus­sia’s in­va­sion of Ukraine, a grow­ing line­up of the world’s biggest phar­ma gi­ants are tak­ing their next, close­ly watched steps amid a glob­al back­lash — pulling out of Rus­sia for a full slate of busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties and, for some, hand­ing over prof­its on any­thing that re­mains.

The lat­est moves come af­ter crit­i­cism of phar­ma for fail­ing to stop do­ing busi­ness in Rus­sia — while many of the world’s busi­ness­es have been pulling a hasty re­treat out of Rus­sia as bombs fall in Ukraine.

No­var­tis told End­points News to­day that it’s tak­ing a two-fold re­sponse: an ini­tial $3 mil­lion do­na­tion to mul­ti­ple NGOs, and they “have de­cid­ed to sus­pend any in­vest­ments in Rus­sia and stop all com­mer­cial mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, as well as all sci­en­tif­ic events, or­ga­nized by us or by ex­ter­nal par­ties.”

Mer­ck is fol­low­ing suit, telling End­points that they “will not make fur­ther in­vest­ments in Rus­sia.” The com­pa­ny al­so said that the com­pa­ny does not have re­search or pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in Rus­sia, and it is com­ply­ing with in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions to en­sure ac­cess to treat­ment. In ad­di­tion to halt­ing any new screen­ings and en­rolling pa­tients in on­go­ing clin­i­cal tri­als there, the com­pa­ny al­so has stopped plan­ning for new stud­ies.

Ab­b­Vie said in a state­ment that the phar­ma “has tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ed op­er­a­tions for all our aes­thet­ics prod­ucts in Rus­sia,” adding that the com­pa­ny has no man­u­fac­tur­ing plants in the re­gion and will con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor their em­ploy­ees in Ukraine and the sur­round­ing area.

For Eli Lil­ly, its re­sponse is two-fold: stop­ping the com­pa­ny’s ex­port of non-es­sen­tial med­i­cines in­to Rus­sia and do­nat­ing prof­its from Russ­ian sales to hu­man­i­tar­i­an re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tions.

An Eli Lil­ly spokesper­son clar­i­fied that the sus­pen­sion will tar­get cer­tain drugs like Cialis.

The com­pa­ny kept de­tails short, with a short blurb on its web­site say­ing, “We al­so have sus­pend­ed all in­vest­ments, pro­mo­tion­al ac­tiv­i­ties, and new clin­i­cal tri­als in Rus­sia, as well as the ex­por­ta­tion of non-es­sen­tial med­i­cines to that coun­try.”

Roche told End­points that since their Russ­ian col­leagues play a role in ac­cess to med­i­cine, the phar­ma will con­tin­ue its op­er­a­tions there for the time be­ing. The com­pa­ny has no pro­duc­tion sites in the coun­try. A spokesper­son added that new site ac­ti­va­tion and new pa­tient en­roll­ment is cur­rent­ly on hold in Rus­sia.

A spokesper­son for Bris­tol My­ers Squibb told End­points that “We have sus­pend­ed new pa­tient re­cruit­ments and clin­i­cal tri­al site ac­ti­va­tions in Ukraine, Be­larus and Rus­sia. We have al­so sus­pend­ed new clin­i­cal tri­al ac­ti­va­tions in those coun­tries.” And while the com­pa­ny has 160 em­ploy­ees in Rus­sia, there are no man­u­fac­tur­ing or R&D fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try.

Pfiz­er, Bay­er and Sanofi were the first phar­mas to take the in­dus­try re­sponse to the in­va­sion one step fur­ther this week — with Pfiz­er stop­ping the start of new clin­i­cal tri­als in Rus­sia and halt­ing re­cruit­ment of new pa­tients in the coun­try in­to on­go­ing tri­als, even as it promis­es to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing drugs to pa­tients al­ready en­rolled in stud­ies.

Bay­er an­nounced it would stop all spend­ing in Rus­sia and Be­larus not re­lat­ed to sup­ply­ing es­sen­tial prod­ucts in health and agri­cul­ture, and Sanofi said it will im­me­di­ate­ly stop all ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia ac­tiv­i­ties in Rus­sia, as well as any new spend­ing not re­lat­ed to the sup­ply of “our es­sen­tial med­i­cines and vac­cines.”

But a num­ber of ma­jor com­pa­nies have yet to of­fi­cial­ly fol­low suit. So far, many have stuck with em­ploy­ee-fo­cused and/or hu­man­i­tar­i­an ef­forts.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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Bill Anderson, incoming Bayer CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bay­er taps Roche's Bill An­der­son to lead phar­ma gi­ant as CEO

We now know where Roche’s ex-pharma chief Bill Anderson is going.

German pharma giant Bayer announced Wednesday that Anderson will be taking on the role as CEO, less than six weeks after Anderson stepped down from his perch at Roche as head of the group’s pharmaceutical division.

Roche announced back in December that Anderson would depart on Dec. 31 to “pursue opportunities outside of Roche.” His replacement, Genentech vet and Roche’s current head of global product strategy, Teresa Graham, will start her role in March.

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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