Severin Schwan, Roche CEO (Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images)

De­spite 'los­ing mon­ey' in Rus­sia, Roche com­mits to con­tin­u­ing its sup­ply of es­sen­tial med­i­cines — re­port

Roche joined a hand­ful of phar­ma com­pa­nies in promis­ing to con­tin­ue its sup­ply of es­sen­tial med­i­cines to Rus­sia — but that promise has come at a cost, CEO Sev­erin Schwan re­vealed.

In an in­ter­view with the Swiss news­pa­per Tages-Anzeiger, Schwan reaf­firmed his com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing life-sav­ing can­cer drugs to Rus­sia, adding that there is an “in­ter­na­tion­al con­sen­sus that med­i­cines are ex­empt from sanc­tions.”

How­ev­er, since the med­i­cines are be­ing paid for in rubles, which have plunged to a record low, the chief ex­ec­u­tive ad­mit­ted that the com­pa­ny is “los­ing mon­ey in Rus­sia at the mo­ment.”

“At Roche, we serve pa­tients not mar­kets,” a spokesper­son said in an emailed state­ment. “There is a good rea­son that life sav­ing and es­sen­tial med­i­cines and cer­tain di­ag­nos­tics so­lu­tions are ex­empt from sanc­tions. As a com­pa­ny we are, and have al­ways been, com­mit­ted to sup­ply­ing our pa­tients with med­i­cines and di­ag­nos­tic tests in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tion­al hu­man­i­tar­i­an law.”

The news comes as phar­ma com­pa­nies con­tin­ue to pull out of Rus­sia for a range of busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties. While John­son & John­son com­mit­ted to sup­ply­ing med­i­cines and med­ical de­vices in the re­gion, it has de­cid­ed to sus­pend its sup­ply of per­son­al care prod­ucts in Rus­sia. While the phar­ma gi­ant did not elab­o­rate on which prod­ucts it’s hold­ing back, its con­sumer health unit hous­es com­mon prod­ucts like Lis­ter­ine mouth­wash and Neu­tro­ge­na and Aveeno skin­care prod­ucts.

Be­gin­ning in ear­ly March, J&J will al­so sus­pend all ad­ver­tis­ing, en­roll­ment in clin­i­cal tri­als, and “any ad­di­tion­al in­vest­ment” in Rus­sia.

In that re­gard, the phar­ma gi­ant is in good com­pa­ny — a hand­ful of Big Phar­mas, in­clud­ing Pfiz­er, Glax­o­SmithK­line, Mer­ck, No­var­tis, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and Roche, have al­so put new site ac­ti­va­tion and new pa­tient en­roll­ment on hold in the coun­try.

Bay­er and Sanofi have al­so made fur­ther ef­forts to pull out of Rus­sia, with Bay­er an­nounc­ing a cou­ple weeks ago that it would stop all spend­ing in Rus­sia and Be­larus not re­lat­ed to sup­ply­ing es­sen­tial prod­ucts in health and agri­cul­ture. Sim­i­lar­ly, Sanofi swore to halt all ad­ver­tis­ing and me­dia ac­tiv­i­ties in Rus­sia, as well as any new spend­ing not re­lat­ed to the sup­ply of “our es­sen­tial med­i­cines and vac­cines.”

“We re­main stead­fast in our sup­port – in­clu­sive of job se­cu­ri­ty, trans­port, lodg­ing and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance – for our em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies in Ukraine,” J&J said in a news re­lease on Tues­day.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”

EMA signs off on 3 drugs re­cent­ly re­ject­ed by FDA, in­clud­ing Bio­Mar­in's new he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py

The EMA’s human medicines committee on Friday recommended three new drugs for approval or conditional approval, even as their US counterparts have rejected these three for various reasons.

In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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