Eli Lil­ly faces an­oth­er age dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit

Eli Lil­ly has been hit with an­oth­er age dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit, this time by a se­nior sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive who claims she was passed over for a pro­mo­tion in fa­vor of a younger, less-qual­i­fied em­ploy­ee.

The case marks the lat­est in a string of age dis­crim­i­na­tion suits against phar­ma com­pa­nies, com­ing just a few months af­ter a sep­a­rate com­plaint was filed against Eli Lil­ly by the Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC).

The EEOC al­leged that an Eli Lil­ly HR ex­ec an­nounced plans back in 2017 to cor­rect “the per­ceived prob­lem that Eli Lil­ly’s work­force on a na­tion­al lev­el was skewed to­ward the old­er gen­er­a­tions,” ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment, the EEOC said Lil­ly man­agers na­tion­wide changed their hir­ing prac­tices in fa­vor of younger can­di­dates for sales rep po­si­tions.

In this lat­est case, 53-year-old se­nior sales rep Mon­i­ca Richards claims she man­aged the com­pa­ny’s Boston Pri­ma­ry Care Dis­trict Team for 10 months on an in­ter­im ba­sis, and “main­tained its po­si­tion as the high­est per­form­ing team out of 93 teams across the coun­try.” How­ev­er, af­ter in­ter­view­ing for the per­ma­nent role, Richards said she was turned down in fa­vor of a 27-year-old staffer “with less than two and-a-half years’ worth of sales ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Richards has worked with the com­pa­ny since 2016, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

“As de­scribed fur­ther be­low, Eli Lil­ly has dis­crim­i­nat­ed, and con­tin­ues to dis­crim­i­nate, against its old­er work­ers by sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly deny­ing them pro­mo­tions and giv­ing those pro­mo­tions to younger em­ploy­ees,” the doc­u­ments state.

Eli Lil­ly has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, main­tain­ing in an email to End­points News that it “does not dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of age, race, col­or, re­li­gion, gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­ti­ty, gen­der ex­pres­sion, na­tion­al ori­gin, pro­tect­ed vet­er­an sta­tus, dis­abil­i­ty or any oth­er legal­ly pro­tect­ed sta­tus.”

“We re­main com­mit­ted to fos­ter­ing and pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of di­ver­si­ty and re­spect,” the com­pa­ny said.

A sim­i­lar case was filed against Eli Lil­ly back in 2021 by two for­mer sales reps who ac­cused the com­pa­ny of age dis­crim­i­na­tion in its hir­ing process, with a pref­er­ence to­ward “at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing young work­ers.”

A hand­ful of phar­ma com­pa­nies have faced age dis­crim­i­na­tion suits in re­cent years, in­clud­ing Ab­b­Vie, which was slapped with a law­suit in De­cem­ber, and No­vo Nordisk, which is al­so fac­ing pres­sure from the EEOC. In that case, the EEOC filed a com­plaint in Sep­tem­ber seek­ing re­lief for an obe­si­ty care spe­cial­ist who was de­nied a lat­er­al trans­fer in 2018. No­vo filed a mo­tion to dis­miss the case that month.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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FDA ap­proves Nar­can opi­oid over­dose re­ver­sal spray for over-the-counter sale

The FDA today approved Emergent BioSolutions’ Narcan brand naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter sales. The nod was expected and comes on the heels of a unanimous 19-0 advisory committee vote in favor of approval last month.

The move to OTC means the opioid overdose reversal agent will now be available on grocery, convenience and gas stations shelves, as well as potentially for purchase online.