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Covid-19 af­flicts Eli Lil­ly’s share price and a KRAS drug gets tossed, but Jar­diance win salves the wound as an an­ti­body ef­fort ad­vances to PhII

Shares of Eli Lilly $LLY tumbled close to 2% on Thursday in a toxic reaction to its mixed revenue performance in the face of the pandemic during Q2. But investors found solace in a promising Phase III readout for Jardiance, as their blockbuster continues to blaze a trail to much bigger markets.

Their SGLT2 inhibitor beat out a placebo in reducing the risk for the composite of cardiovascular death or hospitalization due to heart failure, when added to standard of care. The drug hit the primary endpoint, added Lilly, noting that the full data readout will come at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress at the end of August.

Ab­b­Vie preps a chal­lenge to a ri­val mi­graine drug from Bio­haven, spelling out an up­beat set of PhI­II da­ta

Phase III advance trial data for AbbVie’s migraine prevention drug atogepant look good — but are the results good enough to rival Biohaven’s two-in-one treatment and prevention drug, rimegepant, sold as Nurtec?

AbbVie picked up atogepant from Allergan in a $63 billion buyout last year. It also claimed the Botox franchise and $16 billion in annual revenue.

Vamil Divan, an equity research analyst with Mizuho Financial Group, said atogepant and rimegepant are “natural competitors”: two oral drugs that could hit the market around the same time. Nurtec took the lead with FDA approval in February. Atogepant met primary and secondary endpoints in pivotal Phase III testing, and Illinois-based AbbVie is pushing for regulatory submissions in the US and abroad.

Severin Schwan, Roche CEO (Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP Images)

Genen­tech slash­es near­ly 500 jobs in strate­gic shift to 'lo­cal health­care ecosys­tems.' Clin­i­cal spe­cial­ists make up the biggest group

Deep into the pandemic, the executives at Roche are executing an unusual plan to lay off nearly 500 workers at South San Francisco-based Genentech.

The huge Roche subsidiary handed in their WARN notice to the state a few days ago, noting that 474 staffers were being permanently cut from the payroll.

A spokesperson for the company told me via e-mail:

The majority of these roles are from our field organization and, though formally associated with our South San Francisco headquarters, are actually located throughout the United States. These position eliminations are not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinical trials for which Actemra is being studied in COVID-19 pneumonia, or any specific therapeutic area.

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Hal Barron, GSK R&D chief, at Endpoints News' UKBIO 2019

GSK’s lat­est pipeline re­view in­cludes a slate of COPD pro­grams head­ed to the scrap heap

GlaxoSmithKline R&D chief Hal Barron has tossed a lineup of COPD drugs out of the pipeline in the latest shift away from respiratory diseases. And there was a cancer drug as well as an HIV program in the mix of the nixed.

Barron was quick to highlight his focus on oncology after he took the reins at GSK’s big R&D group, expecting to scale down in respiratory, where GSK has had some successes and many setbacks.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi prunes its pipeline, tak­ing the ax to a line­up of drug, vac­cine pro­grams

Sanofi swept away a lineup of drug and vaccine programs in its Q2 update, starting with a late-stage vaccine play with Daiichi Sankyo and running right through setbacks on their CD38 drug, the anti-inflammatory Kevzara, as well as a troubled alliance with Denali on ALS.

Gone is a longstanding Phase III development program with Daiichi Sankyo for a pediatric pentavalent vaccine in Japan, though there’s no word on what prompted the pullback.

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Test re­sults in hand, Thrive rais­es $257M to push liq­uid biop­sy to­ward ap­proval

Three months after announcing the results of a landmark trial, Thrive Earlier Detection has raised $257 million to put their liquid biopsy cancer test into a pivotal trial.

Thrive started raising for the Series B immediately after the study results were published in Science at the end of April. That study, run across 10,000 women at the Geisinger Health System, showed for the first time that a blood test could help doctors diagnose certain types of cancer in patients who did not yet show symptoms, more than doubling the percentage of cancers that were detected.

Roche de­clares a PhI­II fail­ure for Covid-19 as the IL-6 re­pur­pos­ing the­o­ry bites the dust

Another big IL-6 drug has failed to move the needle for Covid-19 patients, leaving that particular field of repurposed drug R&D on the ropes for the pandemic.

This morning it was Roche’s turn to outline a Phase III failure for Actemra, adding compelling data that have now all but extinguished the theory that an IL-6 drug could significantly help the most severely afflicted patients. That comes just weeks after Regeneron and Sanofi hit the red light on their trial for Kevzara after getting back-to-back readouts that made Roche’s trial a long shot at best.

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Am­gen dumps ear­ly-stage CD38xCD3 bis­pe­cif­ic as 3 pro­grams are side­lined by tri­al set­backs

Five years after Amgen $AMGN agreed to wager up to $1.8 billion on an alliance with Xencor that spotlighted their preclinical bispecific T cell engager program directed at CD38 and CD3 for multiple myeloma, the big biotech is walking away from the program — one of 3 that were scuttled on trial setbacks.

In a review of R&D activities for Q2 Tuesday evening, Amgen noted:

Phase 1 development of AMG 424, a CD38-CD3 XmAb antibody has been stopped, with rights reverting to Xencor.

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Af­ter stop­ping Farx­i­ga tri­al ear­ly, As­traZeneca de­clares suc­cess in CKD treat­ment

Back in March, AstraZeneca announced plans to halt a Phase III trial for its Farxiga drug ahead of schedule after seeing “overwhelming efficacy” in patients with chronic kidney disease. Now, the British drugmaker is claiming a win after the drug met all primary and secondary endpoints.

The trial confirmed Farxiga, an SGLT2 inhibitor used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes, helped halt kidney disease progression. AstraZeneca tracked a composite primary endpoint that combined measurements on whether renal function improved and whether the drug reduced the risk of renal failure. The trial hit that endpoint.

A pro­tein en­gi­neer­ing plat­form spawns a new IL-2 play­er out of Basel, with hu­man tri­als loom­ing next sum­mer

Versant Ventures is debuting another biotech upstart this morning that its partners believe has big potential for developing pipelines in products created by its own unique platform tech. And they have their sights set first on one of the hottest targets in immuno-oncology.

The company is Bright Peak Therapeutics, launched out of Versant’s Ridgeline Therapeutics Discovery Engine in Basel, which is growing clinical development roots in San Diego. And they have $35 million of Versant A round cash to fund their drive to the clinic.