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.)

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

Photo: Shutterstock

Bio­phar­ma's suc­cess rate in bring­ing drugs to mar­ket has long been abysmal. Can new tools help rewrite that trou­bled past?

In 2011, a team of researchers at British drugmaker AstraZeneca had a problem they were looking to solve.

For years, drug discovery and development were a wasteland for innovation. Novel drugs largely fell into one of two categories — monoclonal antibodies and small molecules — and new therapeutic modalities were hard to come by. After a rush of promising approvals in the late 1990s — including then-Biogen’s CD20 targeting antibody breakthrough Rituxan — the field stagnated and attrition rates stayed sky-high. What exactly is the industry doing wrong? AstraZeneca asked itself.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.