Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito)

Dou­bling down on Sanofi's French roots, Paul Hud­son in­fus­es €50M in­to Jeito Cap­i­tal to boost home­grown biotechs

Paul Hud­son head­ed in­to the Élysée Palace, sum­moned by French Pres­i­dent Em­man­u­al Macron, in deep trou­ble with the coun­try’s gov­ern­ing elites who were of­fend­ed by his sug­ges­tion that the US would get first dibs on Sanofi’s Covid-19 vac­cines.

Paul Hud­son

The CEO emerged, as it would be an­nounced a month lat­er in June, with a plan to in­vest in vac­cine R&D in its home coun­try and a bold de­c­la­ra­tion that “Sanofi’s heart beats in France.”

In keep­ing with those promis­es, he’s in­ject­ing €50 mil­lion in­to France-based Jeito Cap­i­tal — an­oth­er first ac­cord­ing to the pri­vate VC firm.

Rafaèle Tord­j­man, the Sofinno­va vet who launched Jeito this Jan­u­ary with €200 mil­lion, be­lieves it’s not just the Eu­ro­pean fo­cus that at­tract­ed the phar­ma gi­ant. She is spe­cif­ic about back­ing star­tups that can beat an ac­cel­er­at­ed path to mar­ket (“you lose one year of patent, you lose one year of peak sales”), but not picky about the stage of the com­pa­ny.

“Our mod­el is to go faster for the pa­tient, fur­ther with the en­tre­pre­neur,” she told End­points News.

And she has as­sem­bled a “mul­ti-tal­ent­ed team that’s com­ing across the whole val­ue chain from trans­la­tion­al sci­ence to mar­ket ac­cess” to get biotech ex­ecs think­ing about tri­al de­sign, pric­ing and re­im­burse­ment, both in Eu­rope and the US, right away.

Tord­j­man leads the Paris of­fice along­side J&J vet Sabine Dandigu­ian, while Rachel Mears, who led busi­ness strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions at For­est Labs be­fore it be­came Al­ler­gan, works in New York. The three op­er­a­tional in­vestors bring ex­pe­ri­ence as a re­pro­duc­tive health-fo­cused biotech vet, a re­searcher on G pro­tein cou­pled re­cep­tors, and a for­mer head of trans­ac­tions and al­liance man­age­ment at GSK, re­spec­tive­ly.

With the ex­cep­tion of ul­tra ear­ly-stage fund­ing, Tord­j­man said Jeito is open to fol­low­ing a com­pa­ny all the way to post-IPO, ded­i­cat­ing $80 mil­lion per deal over the years.

Amer­i­can in­vestors such as RA Cap­i­tal and Bain Life Sci­ences are em­brac­ing what she calls con­ti­nu­ity in­vest­ing, Tord­j­man said. That kind of evo­lu­tion from siloed bets, in her opin­ion, is much need­ed in Eu­rope.

An­oth­er change she wants to pro­mote at Jeito: as­sur­ing en­tre­pre­neurs they can dare to be more am­bi­tious.

“It’s why I was hap­py with Neo­gene, be­cause it is a Eu­ro­pean deal, but à la US, à la Amer­i­can way, to show oth­er Eu­ro­pean com­pa­nies: Let’s do that,” she said, re­fer­ring to the $110 mil­lion Se­ries A that Arie Bellde­grun and David Chang helped put to­geth­er for Ton Schu­mach­er’s cell ther­a­py start­up. “Al­ways a ques­tion I love to ask en­tre­pre­neurs [is] in an ide­al world, you have all the mon­ey you want, what you will do.”

Jeito — a play on a Brazil­ian word evok­ing the spir­it of “if there’s a will, there’s a way” — has seen a steady in­flow of deals, and both Neo­gene and Spar­ingVi­sion, a Paris-based oph­thal­mol­o­gy play­er, were se­lect­ed out of 250 or so they’ve re­viewed as of Oc­to­ber. Deals #3 and #4 are on their way, Tord­j­man sug­gest­ed.

For Hud­son, it all bodes well for giv­ing Sanofi ac­cess to the very best med­ical in­no­va­tion in the re­gion out­side of its BD ef­forts and ven­ture arm.

“We strong­ly be­lieve in the po­ten­tial of France and Eu­rope to be­come a world-class hub for in­no­va­tion in life sci­ences, which just needs the ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions and a stim­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­ment in or­der to thrive,” he said in a state­ment.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Look­ing to push CAR-T in sol­id tu­mors, Bay Area biotech goes pub­lic in SPAC flip — with slight name change

SPACs might be slowly creeping back.

Monday evening, Estrella Biopharma said it was going public via a SPAC deal with TradeUP Acquisition Corp. The deal is set to close in the first half of 2023, and if all goes as planned, the public version of Estrella — dubbed Estrella Immunopharma — will be worth around $398.5 million.

The Bay Area biotech will also get around $45.4 million in cash, and TradeUp stockholders will get around 15% stock in the public biotech.