Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

Brent Saun­ders rides $400M wave to the top of the SPAC boom

Brent Saun­ders’ de­ci­sion to join the SPAC gold rush ap­pears to have paid off nice­ly, al­beit not quite as nice­ly as he and his for­mer Al­ler­gan col­leagues had hoped.

Saun­ders’ spe­cial pur­pose ac­qui­si­tion com­pa­ny Ves­per Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion raised $400 mil­lion, sell­ing 40 mil­lion shares at 10 bucks a pop. That’s a bit short of the $460 mil­lion he and for­mer Al­ler­gan ex­ec Man­isha Narasimhan had ini­tial­ly sten­ciled in as the max­i­mum po­ten­tial of­fer­ing, but it still leaves one of phar­ma’s most fa­mous — and oc­ca­sion­al­ly no­to­ri­ous — wheel­ers and deal­ers with one of the largest hauls for a life sci­ence shell com­pa­ny yet, eclips­ing the $385 mil­lion Cas­din Cap­i­tal and Corvex Man­age­ment raised ear­ly this month.

Saun­ders will now have two years to find a new home for all that cash, look­ing in a hand­ful of fa­mil­iar ar­eas: med­ical aes­thet­ics, eye care, longevi­ty and well­ness.

Al­though the small hand­ful of life sci­ence SPACs to suc­cess­ful­ly merge with pri­vate com­pa­nies have large­ly been small­er, sev­er­al al­so came with ad­di­tion­al ex­ter­nal fund­ing to boost the over­all val­ue of the deal. Cerev­el, for in­stance, an­nounced they would go pub­lic ear­li­er this year on a deal that saw them merge with Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors’ $150 mil­lion SPAC and raise $445 mil­lion in a con­cur­rent pri­vate round.

Still, when Saun­ders first filed for the SPAC, one life sci­ences in­vestor told End­points News that it could trans­late in­to a com­pa­ny worth $1.5 bil­lion to $2 bil­lion — or in the range of what Re­lay Ther­a­peu­tics, the biggest biotech IPO in a year full of big biotech IPOs, was worth on its de­but.

And Saun­ders plans to own a de­cent chunk of the even­tu­al com­pa­ny; the S-1 not­ed he would re­tain 20% of the SPAC post-of­fer­ing.

So far, this marks just Saun­ders’ sec­ond pub­lic move since he avoid­ed a spot on Ab­b­Vie’s board post-buy­out. He al­so joined Bridge­Bio’s board, help­ing Neil Ku­mar steer an um­brel­la of com­pa­nies try­ing to rein­vent biotech.

For a man who very re­cent­ly had the work­ing hours of a Big Phar­ma CEO, that pre­sum­ably leaves room on his plate for more.

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Tony Coles, Cerevel CEO

Cerev­el takes the pub­lic of­fer­ing route, with a twist — rais­ing big mon­ey thanks to ri­val da­ta

As public biotechs seek to climb out of the bear market, a popular strategy to raise cash has been through public offerings on the heels of positive data. But one proposed raise Wednesday appeared to take advantage not of a company’s own data, but those from a competitor.

Cerevel Therapeutics plans to raise $250 million in a public offering and another $250 million in debt, the biotech announced Wednesday afternoon, even though it did not report any news on its pipeline. However, the move comes days after rival Karuna Therapeutics touted positive Phase III data in schizophrenia, a field where Cerevel is pursuing a similar program.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' 2022 spe­cial re­port

Over the past three years, Endpoints News has spotlighted 60 women who have blazed trails and supercharged R&D across the biopharma world. And judging from the response we’ve received, to both our special reports and live events, telling their stories — including any obstacles they may have had to overcome — has inspired our readers in many different ways.

But change takes time, and the fact remains that women are still underrepresented at the upper ranks of the drug-making world.

Bernat Olle, Vedanta Biosciences CEO

Cit­ing 'chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic en­vi­ron­ment,' PhI­II-ready mi­cro­bio­me biotech lays off 20% of staffers

The market downturn isn’t just sweeping up public biotechs.

Vedanta Biosciences, a developer of oral drugs derived from the human microbiome, is laying off about 20% of its staff — an unfortunately common occurrence these days. But CEO Bernat Olle took the unusual step of sharing the decision on LinkedIn and offering to connect the employees being let go with any company that’s hiring in their areas.

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Hervé Affagard, MaaT Pharma CEO

One year in­to clin­i­cal hold, FDA has more ques­tions about 'pooled' mi­cro­bio­me ther­a­py

The FDA is still wary about a trial testing a microbiome therapy in patients with steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD).

A year after MaaT Pharma’s IND application in the US was first met with a clinical hold, the French biotech said the agency is maintaining the hold. The crux of the matter, MaaT suggested, has to do with the way it puts together its drug candidate, which is administered as an enema (i.e. an injection of fluid into the bowel).

Up­dat­ed: Amid mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing, Bio­gen looks to re­duce phys­i­cal pres­ence in Boston

Biogen is putting a sizable chunk of office and research space in Kendall Square and Weston, MA up for sublease, marking another big change as the biotech grapples with the aftershock of a disastrous and controversial rollout for its Alzheimer’s drug.

The subbleases are “part of Biogen’s overall implementation of the ‘Future of Work,’ which is allowing us to optimize our footprint and reduce the amount of space we occupy, taking into consideration new elements such as the hybrid work model,” Biogen spokesperson Ashleigh Koss wrote in a statement to Endpoints News, adding that the company has had subleases across several buildings for years.

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Pfiz­er launch­es re­bate pro­gram for rare dis­ease pa­tients who have to stop tak­ing Panzy­ga

Pfizer is launching its second-ever rebate program, this time for Panzyga, its treatment for a rare neurological disease of the peripheral nerves.

The program began last month, according to STAT which first reported the news, and offers a refund of out-of-pocket costs for patients who must discontinue their course before the fifth treatment for “clinical reasons.”

Panzyga was approved back in 2018 to treat primary immunodeficiency (PI) in patients two years and older and chronic immune thrombocytopenia (cITP) in adults. It has since picked up an indication in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a condition that’s characterized by weakness of the arms or legs, tingling or numbness, and a loss of deep tendon reflexes, according to the NIH.

Horizon's back-to-school campaign for children with cystinosis includes an all about me poster as part of a care package box.

Hori­zon read­ies kids and fam­i­lies for back to school with week­long ac­tiv­i­ties around rare dis­ease cysti­nosis

Going back to school is usually a bumpy readjustment from summer freedom for all kids, but especially for kids with chronic health conditions. Horizon Therapeutics is hoping to help smooth the way for some who have the rare disease cystinosis. Cystinosis is a genetic disease that causes the amino acid cystine to build up in different tissues and organs.

The “Gear Up” for school campaign is running all week with different online and at-home events and activities for families and children with cystinosis. Each family who signed up receives a care package mailed to their home including an activity coloring book “Michael’s Show-and-Tell.” The book tells Michael’s story about living with cystinosis while offering kids matching, coloring and finding object games along with information.

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Alessandro Maselli, Catalent CEO

Catal­ent ac­quires North Car­oli­na CD­MO for $475M, boost­ing oral solids work

As Catalent has been expanding its reach in the US this year, as well as recently completing a C-suite shuffle, the company announced last night that it has acquired the CDMO Metrics Contract Services for $475 million from Mayne Pharma Group.

The acquisition will increase Catalent’s capabilities in oral solid formulation development, manufacturing and packaging as well as expand its capacity to handle more highly potent compounds.

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