Din­ner and a biotech chat: Bil­lion­aire Patrick Soon-Sh­iong talks 'in­no­va­tion' with Pres­i­dent-elect Trump

While MD An­der­son has been mak­ing trou­ble for Patrick Soon-Sh­iong’s can­cer moon shot cam­paign, the high-pro­file biotech bil­lion­aire has been mak­ing his case di­rect­ly with Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, talk­ing about in­no­va­tion and health­care pri­or­i­ties over a meal Sat­ur­day night.

Soon-Sh­iong, who made a for­tune sell­ing Abrax­ane to Cel­gene, was on the week­end agen­da of the busy pres­i­dent-elect, who’s been in­ter­view­ing po­ten­tial Cab­i­net picks and hob­nob­bing with the Re­pub­li­can elite at the Trump Na­tion­al Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, New Jer­sey. The line­up in­clud­ed one-time harsh crit­ic, and cur­rent fan, Mitt Rom­ney. And Soon-Sh­iong’s din­ner with vice-pres­i­dent-elect Pence and Trump was spiced with some biotech chat­ter.

Soon-Sh­iong be­comes the first promi­nent in­dus­try fig­ure to speak di­rect­ly with Trump since his stun­ning up­set vic­to­ry. So what did they talk about?

“Dr. Patrick Soon-Sh­iong joined Pres­i­dent-elect Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Pence for din­ner this evening,” says the Trump camp’s lat­est mis­sive on his meet­ings Sat­ur­day. “The renowned doc­tor has ap­peared on the cov­er of Forbes for his ad­vances in find­ing a cure for can­cer. They dis­cussed in­no­va­tion in the area of med­i­cine and na­tion­al med­ical pri­or­i­ties that need to be ad­dressed in our coun­try.”

No one has told me any­thing about this talk, but the in­dus­try will be work­ing hard to in­flu­ence Trump’s po­si­tion and poli­cies on pric­ing new drugs—where the in­no­va­tion rub­ber hits the road. Soon-Sh­iong’s sit-down with Trump comes as in­dus­try ex­ecs ap­pear to be gain­ing con­fi­dence that his in­au­gu­ra­tion may well boost in­vestors’ con­fi­dence in the in­dus­try.

Soon-Sh­iong’s camp did not an­swer my query about the de­tails of their con­ver­sa­tion, but the bil­lion­aire didn’t miss a chance to spot­light his ac­cess in a tweet.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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The End­points 11: They've got mad mon­ey and huge am­bi­tions. It's time to go big or go home

These days, selecting a group of private biotechs for the Endpoints 11 spotlight begins with a sprint to get ahead of IPOs and the M&A teams at Big Pharma. I’ve had a couple of face plants earlier this year, watching some of the biotechs on my short list choose a quick leap onto Nasdaq or into the arms of a buyer.

Vividion, you would have been a great pick for the Endpoints 11. I’m sorry I missed you.

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Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

So what hap­pened with No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1,500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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FDA+ roundup: Bs­U­FA III ready for show­time, court tells FDA to re-work com­pound­ing plan, new guid­ance up­dates and more

The FDA has now spelled out what exactly will be included in the third iteration of Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) from 2023 through 2027, which similarly to the prescription drug deal, sets fees that industry has to pay for submitting applications, in exchange for firm timelines that the agency must meet.

This latest deal includes several sweeteners for the biosimilar industry, which has yet to make great strides in the US market, with shorter review timelines for safety labeling updates and updates to add or remove an indication that does not contain efficacy data.

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Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

Maureen Hillenmeyer, Hexagon Bio CEO

Hexa­gon Bio rais­es $61M to con­tin­ue ef­forts to turn fun­gi in­to drugs

A year after raising a $47 million launch round, the fungi-loving drug hunters at Hexagon Bio have more than doubled their coffers.

Hexagon announced today that it raised another $61 million for its efforts to design cancer and infectious disease drugs based on insights mined from the DNA in millions of species of fungi. The new financing brings Hexagon’s committed funding to over $108 million.

Jean Bennett (Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP Images)

Lux­tur­na in­ven­tor Jean Ben­nett starts a new gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny to tack­le rare dis­eases left be­hind by phar­ma, VCs

A few years ago Jean Bennett found herself in a surprising place for a woman who invented the first gene therapy ever approved in the United States: No one, it seemed, wanted her work.

Bennett, who designed and co-developed Luxturna, approved in 2018 for a rare form of blindness, had kept building new gene therapies for eye diseases at her University of Pennsylvania lab. But although the results in animals looked promising, pharma companies and investors kept turning down the pedigreed ophthalmology professor.

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Blue­bird sends blood dis­or­der drug to FDA for ap­proval; CG On­col­o­gy en­ters col­lab­o­ra­tion with Roche for Tecen­triq

Bluebird bio announced it completed the rolling submission of its BLA to the FDA for betibeglogene autotemcel gene therapy.

The therapy, designed for patients with beta-thalassemia who require regular red blood cell transfusions, was previously granted breakthrough therapy designation for treating transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (TDT). If approved, beti-cel will be the first hematopoietic stem cell ex-vivo gene therapy for patients in the US.