Drew Arm­strong is com­ing to End­points(!) And there are some more sur­pris­es to come

Bioreg­num Opin­ion Col­umn by John Car­roll

There are a few big days to re­call in the six-year his­to­ry of End­points News. (Ac­tu­al­ly, six years, four months and 12 days, but who’s count­ing.)

One was a sit-down I had with Ar­salan Arif in New York a few weeks be­fore the launch, when we agreed to some ba­sic val­ues for what we were go­ing to do. That con­ver­sa­tion is a reg­u­lar touch­stone for us. We com­mit­ted to be­ing hon­est with each oth­er and the staff. We’d give it every­thing we had, and we would con­duct our­selves in­de­pen­dent­ly and with in­tegri­ty.

We would make it or break it on our own, free to do what was right rather than sim­ply what was the most ex­pe­di­ent.

We start­ed with vir­tu­al­ly no subs and no mon­ey at all for mar­ket­ing — or any­thing else for that mat­ter. So when we cruised past the 100,000 mark on sub­scribers, I hap­pi­ly raised a glass on that big day. Mis­sion ac­com­plished! And I did it again at 150,000 ear­li­er this year.

Once we get to 200,000, I’m go­ing all out.

Cer­tain­ly we’ve had some big hires along the way. The ed­i­to­r­i­al team is sec­ond to none in this busi­ness, with a wide buy-in from in­dus­try in­sid­ers on our brand of bio­phar­ma busi­ness jour­nal­ism: con­ver­sa­tion­al, con­tex­tu­al and very, very cur­rent.

Our sales team is made up of rock stars, and they know I ap­pre­ci­ate every­thing they do. Hir­ing them is a stand­out set of mo­ments for me. Ex­pand­ing the team here — now that we have tripled rev­enue in three years with a big as­sist from our ops team — has al­ways been the most im­por­tant job.

To­day I’m adding Nov. 1, 2022 to the ros­ter of red let­ter days for End­points, as Drew Arm­strong — a long­time Bloomberg vet and se­nior health­care ed­i­tor well known to many of you — joins us as the new ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor.

In the EE chair, Drew will be lead­ing the ed­i­to­r­i­al team. I’m here to sup­port him in every­thing he does, as I fo­cus more of my time and at­ten­tion on the things I love: writ­ing news, mod­er­at­ing events glob­al­ly. Stay­ing in touch with the in­ner work­ings of bio­phar­ma.

This hasn’t been a quick hire, and while I of­ten wished it had gone faster, I ap­pre­ci­ate now more than ever the chance I had to get to know Drew be­fore we all signed on the dot­ted line re­cent­ly. The in­sights he’s of­fered on our busi­ness, his ideas for growth, his en­er­gy and pur­pose for cre­at­ing End­points 2.0, and 3.0, have been a re­al learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

I ex­pect to con­tin­ue to learn from him. I cer­tain­ly look for­ward to it.

Some things aren’t go­ing to change.

Ar­salan and I had a chance to re­new some of those old vows with Drew. We’ll re­main a stead­fast­ly in­de­pen­dent busi­ness pub­li­ca­tion. In­sight and in­tegri­ty are our guides. And now we’ll look for new ways to bring our brand of must-read jour­nal­ism to oth­er ar­eas as well.

You can ex­pect to hear more about that — from Drew — be­fore the year ends.

While Ar­salan and I are in­cred­i­bly proud of every­thing the team has ac­com­plished, it’s time to make an­oth­er trans­for­ma­tive change. And that will take the kind of vi­sion­ary leader and in­no­va­tor Drew is.

Some old norms in busi­ness re­port­ing are in bad need of break­ing. And do­ing it here, with an on­line pub­li­ca­tion that’s shown how it can reach around the globe, is an ab­solute must.

So join me in wel­com­ing Drew Arm­strong to End­points News. It’s go­ing to be great.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; 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.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; 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.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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FDA preps for DMD drug gener­ics as Sarep­ta has yet to fin­ish its con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al

The FDA typically releases guidance to help generic drug manufacturers develop new copycats of small molecule drugs, oftentimes in preparation for a brand name product’s patents or exclusivity to expire.

This week, FDA released such bioequivalence guidance for any generic drugmakers looking to take on Sarepta’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51 (eteplirsen), even though the drug’s sponsor has yet to convert the accelerated approval to a full approval, showing clinical benefit.