Cheers! End­points News turns 1 to­day — and we're un­wrap­ping in­fo on a new sub­scrip­tion plan

To­day, End­points News is one year old. Like any thriv­ing in­fant, we’ve been grow­ing at a fast pace, out­grow­ing a hasti­ly craft­ed chris­ten­ing gar­ment.

Start­ing from scratch, with just so­cial me­dia and a lot of word of mouth to re­ly on, web traf­fic to End­points was less than 14,000 vis­its per week. To­day we notch 14,000 per day, with a to­tal of 139,000 unique read­ers com­ing to the web­site in May.

Email sub­scrip­tions — the most im­por­tant met­ric we track — grew from zilch to 16,000 dai­ly bio­phar­ma sub­scribers drawn to our in­de­pen­dent style of jour­nal­ism. This was a re­sult of or­gan­ic, word-of-mouth ad­vo­ca­cy from our biggest fans. End­points’ “open rate”, the per­cent­age of read­ers who ac­tu­al­ly open and read the email re­ports, has nev­er fall­en be­low 40% — far above in­dus­try av­er­ages and more than dou­ble the rate you see at sim­i­lar pub­li­ca­tions.

I’ve writ­ten — this is a rough ball­park fig­ure — more than 650,000 words on R&D over the past 12 months. And we con­tin­ue to grow our traf­fic month­ly at a dou­ble-dig­it rate.

I am es­sen­tial­ly at about 60% of the read­er­ship I had be­fore I de­cid­ed to do a boot­strap start­up pub­li­ca­tion for bio­phar­ma R&D. And be­lieve me, it’s the best 60%, as I’ve found dur­ing events we’ve host­ed along the way of our maid­en voy­age in San Fran­cis­co and Boston and Eu­rope. The rest will come along, and we’ll be ready to shoot past old mark­ers and fo­cus on achiev­ing big­ger goals in the year ahead.

So where do we go from here?

Com­mit­ment to open-ac­cess and high ex­pec­ta­tions for free con­tent

My part­ner, Ar­salan Arif, and I grew up in this on­line busi­ness me­dia world. We be­lieve that to get a big au­di­ence you need to con­cen­trate on an open-ac­cess mod­el.

In plain Eng­lish, the news must re­main free.

That hasn’t changed and it’s not go­ing to. But we are look­ing to grow the team here at End­points, adding con­tent as we ex­pand read­er­ship fur­ther. And that’s go­ing to take new rev­enue, on top of the ad­ver­tis­ing we’ve built up and con­tin­ue to grow.

A few weeks ago, we ran a read­er sur­vey ask­ing you whether you would con­sid­er pay­ing $200 a year for a sub­scrip­tion. Most said there wasn’t a chance. You have high ex­pec­ta­tions for free con­tent and you weren’t about to change. Some said they’d pay, but the fig­ure sound­ed high. And you were fine with the email blasts from ad­ver­tis­ers.

To all of you, we say thank you for spend­ing part of your work day with us. We’ll work for you every day of the week.

But about 20% of you felt that you would glad­ly pay that, ei­ther to sup­port the work we’re do­ing here or to pay for di­rect ac­cess to the re­port with­out any email blasts from ad­ver­tis­ers.

It was, in fact, about 50/50 on that score.

An­nounc­ing End­points In­sid­er

On Ju­ly 10, we’ll roll out End­points In­sid­er, our paid sub­scrip­tion mod­el. If you’d like to sup­port our work here — or sim­ply want all the con­tent with­out the ad­ver­tis­ing — please sign up here. The cost is $200/year (no pay­ment de­tails re­quired to­day).

End­points In­sid­er pre-reg­is­tra­tion
No pay­ment de­tails re­quired to­day

In ad­di­tion to sup­port­ing us and en­joy­ing an ad-free ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ll be mov­ing my opin­ion pieces be­hind the pay­wall, of­fer­ing eas­i­er ac­cess to the ed­i­to­r­i­al team for any queries you may have, and In­sid­ers can in­stant­ly down­load print-ready PDF ver­sions of all ar­ti­cles so you can print or share in­ter­nal­ly on your terms. Lat­er we’ll add a few oth­er sub­scriber-on­ly pieces, but all of the dai­ly bio­phar­ma news we pub­lish will re­main free and eas­i­ly ac­cessed to those of you who like things as they are. That is not go­ing to change and you don’t have to do any­thing to keep re­ceiv­ing End­points News and mes­sages from our ad­ver­tis­ers.

I’d like to thank you all for the lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of mes­sages of sup­port we’ve re­ceived along the way. When you start up your own in­de­pen­dent busi­ness in an in­dus­try like this, you find lots of sup­port for the en­tre­pre­neur­ial at­ti­tude we’ve adopt­ed. And if you would like to add your sub­scrip­tion to help sup­port that, we’d ap­pre­ci­ate that as well.

One way or the oth­er, we’ll keep work­ing 24/7 on your be­half. It’s been quite a ride, and we’re just get­ting start­ed putting can­dles on that cake. But with­out you, this all means noth­ing. — John Car­roll

Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca EVP, oncology R&D, at EUBIO22 (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca jumps deep­er in­to cell ther­a­py 2.0 space with $320M biotech M&A

Right from the start, the execs at Neogene had some lofty goals in mind when they decided to try their hand at a cell therapy that could tackle solid tumors.

Its founders have helped hone a new approach that would pack in multiple neoantigen targets to create a personalized TCR treatment that would not just make the leap from blood to solid tumors, but do it with durability. And they managed to make their way rapidly to the clinic, unveiling their first Phase I program for advanced tumors just last May.

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Tim Van Hauwermeiren, argenx CEO

Ar­genx pur­chas­es $100M+ FDA pri­or­i­ty re­view vouch­er from blue­bird bio

Argenx’s Vyvgart is due for a speedy review at the FDA, thanks to a $102 million priority review voucher (PRV).

The Netherland-based biotech picked up the PRV from bluebird bio, the companies announced on Wednesday. PRVs shorten a drug’s FDA review period from 10 months to 6 months, though they often sell on the open market for around $100 million each.

Argenx plans on using the express ticket on efgartigimod, its neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) blocker marketed as Vyvgart for adults with generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). While Vyvgart won its first approval last December for the chronic neuromuscular disease — which is characterized by difficulties with facial expression, speech, swallowing and breathing — CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren said in a news release that he plans to “be active in fifteen disease targets by 2025.”

Ei­sai’s ex­pand­ed Alzheimer’s da­ta leave open ques­tions about safe­ty and clin­i­cal ben­e­fit

Researchers still have key questions about Eisai’s investigational Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab following the publication of more Phase III data in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday night.

In the paper, which was released in conjunction with presentations at an Alzheimer’s conference, trial investigators write that a definition of clinical meaningfulness “has not been established.” And the relative lack of new information, following topline data unveiled in September, left experts asking for more — setting up a potential showdown to precisely define how big a difference the drug makes in patients’ lives.

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Lil­ly's Covid-19 mAb no longer au­tho­rized due to Omi­cron sub­vari­ants, FDA says

The FDA on Wednesday announced that Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 drug bebtelovimab is no longer authorized to treat Covid-19 because of the rising numbers of two new subvariants that the drug does not work against.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week published new estimates that the combined proportion of Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are greater than 57% nationally, and already above 50% in all individual regions but one.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and DN­Di aim to elim­i­nate sleep­ing sick­ness in Africa with promis­ing Ph II/III re­sults for new drug

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Sanofi today said that their potential sleeping sickness treatment saw success rates of up to 95% from a Phase II/III study investigating the safety and efficacy of single-dose acoziborole.

The potentially transformative treatment for sleeping sickness would mainly be targeted at African countries, according to data published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal. The clinical trial was led by DNDi and its partners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea, with the authors noting:

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

Twit­ter dis­ar­ray con­tin­ues as phar­ma ad­ver­tis­ers ex­tend paus­es and look around for op­tions, but keep tweet­ing

Pharma advertisers on Twitter are done — at least for now. Ad spending among the previous top spenders flattened even further last week, according to the latest data from ad tracker Pathmatics, amid ongoing turmoil after billionaire boss Elon Musk’s takeover now one month ago.

Among 18 top advertisers tracked for Endpoints News, only two are spending: GSK and Bayer. GSK spending for the full week through Sunday was minimal at just under $1,900. Meanwhile, German drugmaker Bayer remains the industry outlier upping its spending to $499,000 last week from $480,000 the previous week. Bayer’s spending also marks a big increase from a month ago and before the Musk takeover, when it spent $16,000 per week.

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Vi­a­tris with­draws ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for top­i­cal an­timi­cro­bial 24 years lat­er

After 24 years without confirming clinical benefit, the FDA announced Tuesday morning that Viatris (formed via Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn) has decided to withdraw a topical antimicrobial agent, Sulfamylon (mafenide acetate), after the company said conducting a confirmatory study was not feasible.

Sulfamylon first won FDA’s accelerated nod in 1998 as a topical burn treatment, with the FDA noting that last December, Mylan told the agency that it wasn’t running the trial.

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Lex­i­con slams FDA over hear­ing de­nial fol­low­ing a CRL for its SGLT2 in­hibitor can­di­date

Lexicon Pharmaceutical is not giving up on its Type I diabetes candidate, despite FDA’s repeated rejections. This week the company laid out is argument again for a hearing on sotagliflozin in response to the FDA’s most recent denial.

The issue goes back to March 2019 when the FDA made very clear to Lexicon and its now departed partner Sanofi that it would not approve their application for a potential Type I diabetes drug because it does not appear to be safe.

Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (ddp images/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech bets on dif­fi­cult STING field via small mol­e­cule pact with a Pol­ish biotech

BioNTech is beefing up its relatively thin small molecule pipeline by adding weight to a clinically difficult corner of oncology R&D: STING agonists. To do so, BioNTech is teaming up with a 15-year-old Polish biotech and doling out €40 million, about $41.5 million, to start.

The deal is broken into two parts: First, BioNTech obtains an exclusive global license to develop and market Ryvu Therapeutics’ STING agonist portfolio as small molecules, whether alone or in combination with other agents.

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