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Emma Walmsley, GSK CEO (GSK Investor Day 5)

As the con­sumer group splits away to­day, what will New GSK buy now?

What a difference one really good Phase III readout and a couple of late-stage buyouts can make.

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley has been trying, hard, to build some excitement around the pipeline. And with the recent positive outcome for their RSV vaccine, she’s finally earning some market respect on that score. And with the big consumer split today, with the birth of Haleon, you can expect plenty of buzz about the need for another M&A deal to position the company.

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Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Fa­heem Has­nain forges a $120M pri­vate place­ment. So what did we learn from that?

This morning Faheem Hasnain is unveiling a $120 million private placement for his biotech, Gossamer Bio. Which says a lot about where and how the smart money is being bet these days.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last six months, you know the market went from euphoria about biotech during the pandemic to a hard and unrelenting despair. There’s been a bounce recently in the key indexes, but as Hasnain and a group of realistic biotech execs readily agreed during our live panel at #BIO22, the mood is “shitshow” dark on Wall Street when it comes to the odds of success in drug development.

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From left to right: Adam Koppel (Bain Capital Life Sciences), Mike Bozik (Knopp Biosciences CEO) and Clive Meanwell (Population Health)

No sur­ren­der: A group of mar­quee biotech play­ers bets on the $350M PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion sto­ry of a heavy­weight con­tender

Anyone reading Biogen’s press release on the flat failure of dexpramipexole in treating ALS couldn’t overlook the note of finality then R&D chief Doug Williams used to mark its grave 10 years ago. The drug failed the primary endpoint. Follow-up analysis left no doubt about the flop.

Williams recalls the readout in ALS as “a crushing blow.” And Biogen was done.

Dex, though, was not.

After being left in the hands of Knopp Biosciences CEO Mike Bozik, the Knopp team kept the faith alive after that bitter setback. Despite the failure in helping ALS patients, there was a clear picture of what it could do: lower eosinophils. And that would emerge as a major target for biologics work that advanced a blockbuster set of cutting-edge therapeutics in asthma, opening airways and rescuing patients dying for a deep breath.

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invoX CEO Ben Toogood (L) and F-star CEO Eliot Forster

A por­trait of a biotech buy­out deal in sav­age times: turn­ing a $15.50 of­fer in­to a $7.12 deal

Back last November, the once high-flying F-star was hurting, bad. Its share price had been crushed and the CEO, Eliot Forster of Immunocore fame, had to face the prospect of a dwindling cash reserve. So they went to Morgan Stanley to see what the bankers could come up with in the way of “strategic opportunities” — a standard euphemism for some way out of a mess.

The problem was, things were about to get much, much worse for F-star.

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Robert Davis, Merck CEO

Fresh re­port of 'ad­vanced' $40B+ Seagen buy­out talks spurs more buzz about FTC show­down

Merck CEO Rob Davis appears committed to pushing through with a $40 billion (or so) buyout deal with Seagen, driven by its need to be much more than Keytruda — and despite the likely FTC fight to come.

The Wall Street Journal has the latest play-by-play call of the private M&A talks, reporting overnight that Merck is in “advanced” discussions to buy Seagen at a share price north of $200. The deadline appears to be Merck’s Q2 call, set for July 28. That was good for another 5% spike on Seagen’s share price ahead of the bell, now right around $184 as investors consider the latest buzz.

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The 2022 End­points 11 is com­ing. Do you know a biotech that should be on the list?

It’s time for some fun.

Over the past 20 years or so, I’ve made it my mission to hunt down some of the most promising private biotechs in the industry to feature in an annual report I now call the Endpoints 11. And we’re back on track for the next big round of awards.

Every now and then I’m asked what the basic criteria is for inclusion. It’s simple. If you’re out to do big things in drug development, break new ground, go to that proverbial next level with an outstanding team, promising science and marquee backers — or promise to make a colossal noise if you fail — then you should make the short list.

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Michel Vounatsos (Credit: World Economic Forum/Ciaran McCrickard)

Alzheimer's quick OK, take two: FDA of­fers Bio­gen, Ei­sai a short­cut to a pos­si­ble lecanemab ap­proval

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos is departing under a dark and wide cloud created by the Aduhelm fiasco, which essentially destroyed any hope of any substantial return on sales. The new FDA chief believes that the controversial early OK of that drug has dinged the agency’s credibility, spurring some heavy criticism of the accelerated approval pathway among reformers in Congress. The amyloid hypothesis has been badly damaged. And the Phase III trial Biogen/Eisai are running on the follow-up Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab won’t read out until the fall.

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Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Bat­tle-test­ed biotech ex­ecs turn to an ex­pe­ri­enced in­dus­try god­fa­ther for some board­room guid­ance

Little Sling Therapeutics out of Ann Arbor, MI may be just a few days out of the starting gate from the announcement of its $35 million launch round, but execs are positioning themselves within clear sight of a key clinical finish line. And they’re revving up with an experienced player to help guide them on the way.

The biotech is putting out word this morning that Faheem Hasnain has agreed to godfather the drug developer as chairman of the board, adding a measured dash of seasoning at a point when most biotechs are still struggling with the embryo stage.

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Robert Davis, Merck CEO

In lieu of hard M&A news, one group of an­a­lysts crunch­es the num­bers around a $40B Seagen buy

Some of the analysts at SVB Securities have been playing with the numbers that might set the stage for Merck $MRK — or some other Big Pharma — to come in and make a buyout of Seagen $SGEN work. And while it’s all pure speculation, it does help provide a rough outline for what a deal could look like in H2 as investors wait with bated breath for the bottom of a miserable public biotech market.

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#BIO22: Com­ing to­geth­er at a crit­i­cal time, End­points News looks at the key met­rics on bio­phar­ma in a tur­bu­lent time

Back at the beginning of the year during JP Morgan, I came up with my usual set of projections for the year ahead and definitely got one thing wrong. The biotech IPO market, I said in January, would remain weak, creating a major funding issue for biotech.

Here’s me in a discussion with Catalent executive chairman John Chiminski:

What you’ve had for several years is a booming biotech field, lots of money pummeling into the business and pushing it up. So when you remove IPOs as an alternative source of money for a lot of companies, it will make deal-making more (attractive).

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