Clin­ton cam­paign staff: "We have start­ed the war with phar­ma!!"

Just one Tweet from Hillary Clin­ton drove biotech stocks down sharply last fall, the open­ing round in what would be a sav­age bear mar­ket for the in­dus­try. And her se­nior staffers in the cam­paign were deliri­ous.

Clin­ton had jabbed Mar­tin Shkre­li hard for his de­ci­sion to jack up the price of Dara­prim by more than 5,000%, and the sharp, swift re­ac­tion on Wall Street to the mes­sage on drug prices was cheered by her se­nior pol­i­cy ad­vis­ers, ac­cord­ing to one of sev­er­al email ex­changes in­clud­ed in Wik­iLeaks hacked John Podes­ta files.

FYI – We have start­ed the war with Phar­ma!!,” ex­claimed Ann O’Leary re­gard­ing the press that fol­lowed. “Great!,” replied out­side ad­vis­er Mandy Grun­wald.

A few weeks lat­er, though, Clin­ton strate­gist Jim Mar­go­lis was be­gin­ning to fret that Shkre­li hadn’t caved on the price.

I’m a lit­tle ner­vous that we ran the spot and this dude is still stick­ing it to pa­tients. Has there been any fur­ther dis­cus­sion about this?

That wouldn’t be the on­ly ex­change re­gard­ing Hillary Clin­ton’s ad­ver­sar­i­al re­la­tion­ship with Big Phar­ma, which was care­ful­ly con­sid­ered in­side her cam­paign.

Last fall, as Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign team was sound­ing out var­i­ous po­si­tions that would help high­light her stance on the phar­ma in­dus­try, the nom­i­na­tion of Robert Califf as FDA com­mis­sion­er pre­sent­ed a tempt­ing tar­get to at least one of her top ad­vis­ers.

A New York Times ar­ti­cle had raised the is­sue of Califf’s ties to the in­dus­try, and O’Leary – a se­nior pol­i­cy ad­vis­er – saw it as a po­ten­tial open­ing for a po­lit­i­cal jab that would high­light Hillary Clin­ton’s ea­ger­ness to stand up to Big Phar­ma, ac­cord­ing to one of the hacked emails that emerged in the John Podes­ta files re­leased by Wik­iLeaks.

O’Leary wrote:

Califf the Oba­ma nom­i­nee does have re­al ties to the drug in­dus­try – Chris Jen­nings is call­ing a few peo­ple for me to learn more so we don’t tip our hand di­rect­ly. We are clean on Clin­ton Ad­min FDA Com­mis­sion­er – it was David Kessler, an aca­d­e­m­ic who had run a teach­ing hos­pi­tal – and best known for tak­ing on big to­bac­co.  We could cer­tain­ly sig­nal that we want some­one will­ing to stand up to Phar­ma (in the same way Kessler stood up to To­bac­co).

BUT – I want to do a lit­tle more dig­ging and due dili­gence be­fore we hit this guy.  Hav­ing been through a nom­i­na­tion fight with my hus­band (in which he lost), this is per­son­al and messy and hor­ri­ble on the per­son nom­i­nat­ed and their fam­i­lies – so I don’t take at­tack­ing this guy light­ly.

Clin­ton spokesman Bri­an Fal­lon not­ed that he liked the idea, not­ing that Joe Biden – a po­ten­tial con­tender for the nom­i­na­tion – would be re­quired to be in Califf’s cor­ner.

Any up­date on this? As we con­sid­er fights that fit in­to the larg­er themes we are try­ing to pro­mote, this seems like a good fight to have.

Plus, the VP would be in a box of hav­ing to sup­port this nom­i­nee.

The email ex­change even­tu­al­ly pe­ters out, but it does un­der­score that Clin­ton all along in­tend­ed to help dis­tin­guish her can­di­da­cy by crit­i­ciz­ing the phar­ma in­dus­try, a po­si­tion that fell more nat­u­ral­ly in­to her lap when Mar­tin Shkre­li was be­ing pil­lo­ried for rais­ing the price of an old gener­ic drug more than 5,000%.

(Shehla Shakoor con­tributed to this sto­ry.)

Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?

Alice Shaw, Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Top ALK ex­pert and can­cer drug re­searcher Al­ice Shaw bids adieu to acad­e­mia, hel­lo to No­var­tis

Jay Bradner has recruited a marquee oncology drug researcher into the ranks of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Alice Shaw is jumping from prestigious posts intertwined through Mass General, Harvard and Dana-Farber to take the lead of NIBR’s translational clinical oncology group.

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Christine Bunt, Robert Langer. Verseau

Armed with Langer tech and $50M, Verseau hails new check­point drugs un­leash­ing macrophages against can­cer

The rising popularity of CD47 has propelled the “don’t-eat-me” signal to household name status in the immuno-oncology world. But just as PD-(L)1 merely represents the most fruitful of all checkpoints regulating T cells, Verseau Therapeutics is convinced that CD47 is one of many regulators one can modulate to stir up or tame the immune system.

“Macrophages are interesting because we were all educated probably 20 years ago that they are the big eaters in the immune system, but they’re really the orchestrators of the immune system,” CEO Christine Bunt said.

Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have to clear a high bar for suc­cess

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.

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CSL ac­cus­es ri­val Pharm­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a scheme to rip off IP on HAE while re­cruit­ing se­nior R&D staffer

Pharming has landed in the middle of a legal donnybrook after recruiting a senior executive from a rival R&D team at CSL. The Australian pharma giant slapped Pharming with a lawsuit alleging that the Dutch biotech’s new employee, Joseph Chiao, looted a large cache of proprietary documents as he hit the exit. And they want it all back.
Federal Judge Juan Sanchez in the Eastern District Pennsylvania court issued an injunction on Tuesday prohibiting Chiao from doing any work on HAE or primary immune deficiency in his new job and demanding that he return any material from CSL that he may have in his possession. And he wants Pharming to tell its employees not to ask for any information on the forbidden topics.
For its part, Pharming fired off an indignant response this morning denying any involvement in extracting any kind of IP from CSL, adding that it’s cooperating in the internal probe that CSL has underway.

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Eli Lil­ly’s first PhI­II show­down for their $1.6B can­cer drug just flopped — what now?

When Eli Lilly plunked down $1.6 billion in cash to acquire Armo Biosciences a little more than a year ago, the stars seemed aligned in its favor. The jewel in the crown they were buying was pegilodecakin, which had cleared the proof-of-concept stage and was already in a Phase III trial for pancreatic cancer.

And that study just failed.

Lilly reported this morning that their cancer drug flopped on overall survival when added to FOLFOX (folinic acid, 5-FU, oxaliplatin), compared to FOLFOX alone among patients suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.

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