Drown­ing in lit­i­ga­tion, Mallinck­rodt be­comes third opi­oid pro­duc­er to file for bank­rupt­cy

Be­set by hun­dreds of opi­oid law­suits and hun­dreds of mil­lions in pay­ments owed un­der a re­cent fed­er­al rul­ing on one of their best-sell­ing drugs, Mallinck­rodt, the 150-year-old Irish drug­mak­er, has filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­rupt­cy.

Mallinck­rodt, a com­pa­ny that once sold more opi­oids in the US than any oth­er, be­comes the third ma­jor opi­oid pro­duc­er to file for bank­rupt­cy amid a sea of lit­i­ga­tion. Pur­due Phar­ma and In­sys Ther­a­peu­tics each filed for bank­rupt­cy last year.

Bank­rupt­cy has be­come a com­mon tac­tic for the com­pa­nies that prof­it­ed off the opi­oid epi­dem­ic and now face thou­sands of law­suits in part, crit­ics say, be­cause it can freeze lit­i­ga­tion and leave those lit­i­gants com­pet­ing for pay­outs with a com­pa­ny’s cred­i­tors. Mallinck­rodt said they plan to con­tin­ue with a ten­ta­tive set­tle­ment they reached ear­li­er this year.

Ru­mors of a Mallinck­rodt bank­rupt­cy have swirled for months. In Feb­ru­ary, the drug­mak­er agreed to a set­tle­ment with most of its lit­i­gants, in­clud­ing 47 states and US ter­ri­to­ries, that would see it pay $1.6 bil­lion to re­solve claims over its role in the opi­oid cri­sis.

In March, though, a fed­er­al court found Mallinck­rodt li­able for over $600 mil­lion in un­paid Med­ic­aid re­bates for its top-sell­ing mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis drug Ac­thar Gel. In sub­se­quent court fil­ings and state­ments, the com­pa­ny said that the rul­ing jeop­ar­dized their abil­i­ty to pay off the opi­oid set­tle­ment, warn­ing in June they may “have no op­tion but to take dras­tic and painful mea­sures, up to and in­clud­ing the prospect of bank­rupt­cy.”

The com­pa­ny said to­day they’ve agreed to pay $260 mil­lion to set­tle Med­ic­aid claims and that they plan to pro­ceed with the $1.6 bil­lion opi­oid set­tle­ment, pay­ing out the lat­ter over 8 years, be­gin­ning with a $450 mil­lion pay­out when they emerge from bank­rupt­cy. The par­ties in the law­suit will al­so re­ceive shares worth about 20% of the com­pa­ny.

Mallinck­rodt list­ed be­tween $1 and $10 bil­lion in as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties. They are hop­ing to pare down their debt by $1.3 bil­lion.

Un­like Pur­due, which is at­tempt­ing to re-emerge post-bank­rupt­cy as a pro­duc­er of an­ti-ad­dic­tion drugs, Mallinck­rodt in­tends to con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ing new com­pounds dur­ing and post-bank­rupt­cy. Its pipeline, how­ev­er, has been less than ro­bust in re­cent years. Their lead ex­per­i­men­tal com­pound, the rare kid­ney dis­ease drug Ter­li­pressin, was re­ject­ed by the FDA for a sec­ond time last month, af­ter an in­ter­nal re­view spot­light­ed safe­ty con­cerns and lin­ger­ing ques­tions over whether the drug was ef­fec­tive.

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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So what hap­pened with No­var­tis' gene ther­a­py group? 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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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.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Vicente Anido (University of West Virginia via YouTube)

Aerie fires CEO af­ter lead pro­gram flop, com­ments about pri­ma­ry end­points be­ing 'not re­quired'

Aerie Pharmaceuticals CEO Vicente Anido has left the company less than a week after trying to chart a Phase III study in the wake of a serious Phase IIb flop.

Anido’s last day at Aerie was Friday, the biotech announced in a news release Tuesday morning, and Benjamin McGraw is taking his place in an interim role. The now former CEO was terminated without cause, according to an SEC filing.

The board has started looking for a full-time chief to take his place.

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When ef­fi­ca­cy is bor­der­line: FDA needs to get more con­sis­tent on close-call drug ap­provals, agency-fund­ed re­search finds

In the exceedingly rare instances in which clinical efficacy is the only barrier to a new drug’s approval, new FDA-funded research from FDA and Stanford found that the agency does not have a consistent standard for defining “substantial evidence” when flexible criteria are used for an approval.

The research comes as the FDA is at a crossroads with its expedited-review pathways. The accelerated approval pathway is under fire as the agency recently signed off on a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, with little precedent to explain its decision. Meanwhile, top officials like Rick Pazdur have called for a major push to simplify and clarify all of the various expedited pathways, which have grown to be must-haves for sponsors of nearly every newly approved drug.

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Lat­est news: It’s a no on uni­ver­sal boost­ers; Pa­tient death stuns gene ther­a­py field; In­side Tril­li­um’s $2.3B turn­around; 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.

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one, as our editor-in-chief John Carroll and managing editor Kyle Blankenship lead back-to-back discussions with a great group of experts to discuss the weekend news and trends. John will be spending 30 minutes with Jake Van Naarden, the CEO of Lilly Oncology, and Kyle has a brilliant panel lined up: Harvard’s Cigall Kadoch, Susan Galbraith, the new head of cancer R&D at AstraZeneca, Roy Baynes at Merck, and James Christensen at Mirati. Don’t miss out on the action — sign up here.

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Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a specific market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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