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

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

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On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.