Celldex ax­es two more pro­grams to cut costs fol­low­ing glem­bat­u­mum­ab fail­ure; Zio­pharm stock slides on halt­ed brain can­cer tri­al

→ New Jer­sey-based biotech Celldex $CLDX is cut­ting two pro­grams from its pipeline, hoard­ing re­sources af­ter the fail­ure of its lead breast can­cer drug glem­bat­u­mum­ab in late April. The com­pa­ny is ax­ing its Phase I re­nal cell and clear cell ovar­i­an car­ci­no­ma drug CDX-014, along with its CDX-1401 pro­gram, an off-the-shelf den­drit­ic cell-tar­get­ing vac­cine.

“Celldex has made con­sid­er­able progress on an im­por­tant strate­gic pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of our pipeline, fol­low­ing (the)…dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the glem­bat­u­mum­ab pro­gram across all in­di­ca­tions,” said An­tho­ny Maruc­ci, co-founder, pres­i­dent and CEO of Celldex Ther­a­peu­tics, in a state­ment. “In 2018, we will fo­cus pri­mar­i­ly on con­tin­ued clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of two com­pa­ny-spon­sored pro­grams — CDX-1140, a promis­ing CD40 ag­o­nist, and CDX-3379, which blocks ErbB3, a re­cep­tor thought to play an im­por­tant role in reg­u­lat­ing can­cer cell growth and sur­vival.”

By shut­ter­ing these pro­grams and cut­ting 20% of its staff last month, the com­pa­ny be­lieves its fi­nan­cial re­sources will get Celldex through 2020.

→ Shares of Zio­pharm slid 8% $ZIOP in ear­ly trad­ing Fri­day as in­vestors re­act­ed to the news that it is hit­ting the brakes on a piv­otal study of Ad-RTS-hIL-12 plus a 20mg dose of veled­imex for brain can­cer. “The Com­pa­ny is pro­gress­ing in re­solv­ing pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments re­lat­ed to Chem­istry and Man­u­fac­tur­ing Con­trol, mak­ing this as­set phase-3 ready for rGBM,” the com­pa­ny re­ports. 

With con­tri­bu­tion by John Car­roll.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA buck­les un­der the strain of a pan­dem­ic work­load, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

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

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

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The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (AP Images)

An­drew Cuo­mo says New York will un­der­take its own vac­cine re­view process, and wouldn’t rec­om­mend trust­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment

The concerns keep mounting over President Donald Trump’s politicization of the FDA and other federal agencies guiding the development of a safe and effective vaccine. And today, the telegenic New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to introduce even more politics into the matter — latest in an ongoing series of incidents that have cast the proudly independent FDA in starkly political terms.

During his daily press conference Cuomo said that the state will review any coronavirus vaccines approved by the federal government, citing a lack of trust in the Trump administration. The announcement comes one day after Trump accused the FDA of making an “extremely political” move in proposing stricter vaccine guidance.

News brief­ing: HHS chas­tis­es Eli Lil­ly for end­ing some dis­counts in a pan­dem­ic; Gilead to pay $97 mil­lion to set­tle kick­back al­le­ga­tions

Gilead agreed to pay $97 million to settle allegations that it illegally used a charity to pay thousands of Medicare patients’ co-payments for its pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Letairis.

The US government claimed that between June 2007 and December 2010, Gilead $GILD used the Caring Voice Coalition as a conduit to cover the costs of just its own drug. The alleged behavior goes against the False Claims Act.

President Trump walks past HHS secretary Alex Azar (Getty Images)

Azar falls in line un­der Trump again. Ex­perts say he's re­in­forc­ing a dark sig­nal sent to the FDA

In the latest incident where Alex Azar has steadfastly taken the side of President Donald Trump over that of the FDA, the HHS secretary was noncommittal this morning when asked if he supports the attempt by his subordinates at the FDA to strengthen guidelines for a vaccine EUA.

Appearing on NBC’s Today Show, the HHS secretary muddied the waters, stating that the guidance that matters is the one that is “actually already out there.”