Em­ma Walm­s­ley joins #MeToo­Pay; Monopar post­pones $40M IPO

GSK CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley has ral­lied to­geth­er with some of the UK’s most suc­cess­ful busi­ness­women to high­light the pay dis­crim­i­na­tion they face in com­par­i­son to their male coun­ter­parts in the cam­paign #MeToo­Pay. The web­site lament­ed the frus­tra­tions of the women, stat­ing, “we’re frus­trat­ed to still read sto­ries about women not get­ting the pay they de­serve. Women should not be paid less than men to do ex­act­ly the same job. It’s just wrong.”

Walm­s­ley’s pay­check is one of the low­est in the in­dus­try — last year earn­ing a $1.3 mil­lion raise with her to­tal re­mu­ner­a­tion be­ing $7.67 mil­lion — trail­ing be­hind her male peers.

→ Al­most a month af­ter Christo­pher Starr co-founder Monopar Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced the terms for a $40 mil­lion IPO, the com­pa­ny is now post­pon­ing it, cit­ing mar­ket con­di­tions. The com­pa­ny had filed to of­fer 4.4 mil­lion shares at the price range of $8 to $10 and planned to list un­der the tick­er $MN­PR.

VIVUS has paid down $48.6 mil­lion of its Se­nior Se­cured Notes due in 2024. CEO of VIVUS, John Amos, said: “The $48.6 mil­lion re­pay­ment an­nounced to­day is the first of these steps and will re­sult in a net sav­ings of in­ter­est of $10.5 mil­lion over the re­main­ing term of the loan.” In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny an­nounced the de­par­ture of two of their ex­ecs — pres­i­dent Ken Suh and COO Scott Oehrlein.

→ Months af­ter Ve­rastem nabbed ap­proval for its PI3K drug du­velis­ib (Copik­tra), the com­pa­ny re­ceived more good news this morn­ing with the se­cur­ing of or­phan des­ig­na­tion for the drug for the treat­ment of T-Cell lym­phoma. Cur­rent­ly, Copik­tra is ap­proved for the treat­ment of chron­ic lym­pho­cyt­ic leukemia/small lym­pho­cyt­ic lym­phoma (CLL/SLL) af­ter at least 2 pri­or ther­a­pies and ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval in fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma (FL) af­ter at least 2 pri­or sys­temic ther­a­pies in the US.

What Will it Take to Re­al­ize the Promise and Po­ten­tial of Im­mune Cell Ther­a­pies?

What does it take to get to the finish line with a new cancer therapy – fast? With approvals in place and hundreds of immune cell therapy candidates in the pipeline, the global industry is poised to create a fundamental shift in cancer treatments towards precision medicine. At the same time, unique challenges associated with cell and process complexity present manufacturing bottlenecks that delay speed to market and heighten cost of goods sold (COGS) — these hurdles must be overcome to make precision treatments an option for every cancer patient. This series of articles highlights some of the key manufacturing challenges associated with the production of cell-based cancer therapies as well as the solutions needed to transcend them. Automation, process knowledge, scalability, and assured supply of high-quality starting material and reagents are all critical to realizing the full potential of CAR-based therapies and sustaining the momentum achieved in recent years. The articles will highlight leading-edge technologies that incorporate these features to integrate across workflows, accelerate timelines and reduce COGS – along with how these approaches are enabling the biopharmaceutical industry to cross the finish line faster with new treatment options for patients in need.

The biggest ques­tions fac­ing gene ther­a­py, the XLMTM com­mu­ni­ty, and Astel­las af­ter fourth pa­tient death

After three patients died last year in an Astellas gene therapy trial, the company halted the study and began figuring out how to safely get the program back on track. They would, executives eventually explained, cut the dose by more than half and institute a battery of other measures to try to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Then tragically, Astellas announced this week that the first patient to receive the new regimen had died, just weeks after administration.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

President Biden and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

Chaot­ic ad­comm sees Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech boost­ers re­ject­ed for gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, but rec­om­mend­ed for old­er and high-risk pop­u­la­tions

With just days before President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 booster rollout is set to go into effect, an FDA advisory committee appeared on the verge of not recommending boosters for anyone in the US before a last-minute change of wording laid the groundwork for older adults to have access to a third dose.

The FDA’s adcomm on Vaccines and Related Biological Products (VRBPAC) roundly rejected Pfizer/BioNTech booster shots for all individuals older than 16 by a 16-2 vote Friday afternoon. Soon after, however, the agency posed committee members a new question limiting booster use to the 65-and-older population and individuals at high risk of disease due to occupational exposure or comorbidities.

As­traZeneca, Dai­ichi Sanky­o's ADC En­her­tu blows away Roche's Kad­cy­la in sec­ond-line ad­vanced breast can­cer

AstraZeneca and Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo think they’ve struck gold with their next-gen ADC drug Enhertu, which has shown some striking data in late-stage breast cancer trials and early solid tumor tests. Getting into earlier patients is now the goal, starting with Enhertu’s complete walkover of a Roche drug in second-line breast cancer revealed Saturday.

Enhertu cut the risk of disease progression or death by a whopping 72% (p=<0.0001) compared with Roche’s ADC Kadcyla in second-line unresectable and/or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who had previously undergone treatment with a Herceptin-chemo combo, according to interim data from the Phase III DESTINY-Breast03 head-to-head study presented at this weekend’s #ESMO21.

Merck Research Laboratories CMO Roy Baynes

Mer­ck­'s Keytru­da un­corks full da­ta on lat­est ad­ju­vant win — this time in melanoma — adding bricks to ear­ly can­cer wall

In recent months, the battle for PD-(L)1 dominance has spilled over into early cancer with Merck’s Keytruda and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo all alone on the front lines. Keytruda now has another shell in its bandolier, and it could spell a quick approval.

Keytruda cut the risk of relapse or death by 35% over placebo (p=0.00658) in high-risk, stage 2 melanoma patients who had previously undergone surgery to remove their tumors, according to full data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-716 presented Saturday at #ESMO21.

Mer­ck flesh­es out Keytru­da win in first-line cer­vi­cal can­cer, adding more fire­pow­er to its ear­ly can­cer push

Merck has worked hard to bring its I/O blockbuster Keytruda into earlier and earlier lines of therapy, and now the wonder drug appears poised to make a quick entry into early advanced cervical cancer.

A combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy with or without Roche’s Avastin cut the risk of death by 33% over chemo with or without Avastin (p=<0.001) in first-line patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, according to full data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-826 study presented Saturday at #ESMO21.

Philip Mor­ris gets share­hold­er back­ing in Vec­tura saga; Tarve­da strikes ex­clu­sive li­cens­ing agree­ment with Sci­Clone

Tobacco giant Philip Morris now has crossed the 50% threshold it needs for shareholder backing for its controversial, $1.5 billion takeover of asthma inhaler maker Vectura.

Investors have accepted a $2.28-per-share offer from the company behind Marlboro cigarettes, according to Sky News — and those investors represent nearly 75% of the company’s shares.

Acquiring the British inhaler maker is only a part of Philip Morris’ long term plan to develop “smoke-free” products, with a desire to ultimately become a “broader healthcare and wellness” company.

Skin tu­mors in mice force Pro­tag­o­nist to halt lead pro­gram, crush­ing stock

Protagonist Therapeutics just can’t catch a break.

Six months after the Newark, CA-based biotech unveiled grand plans to launch its lead candidate for blood disorders into a Phase III trial, the FDA has slapped the program with a clinical hold. The halt — which applies to all trials involving the candidate, rusfertide — comes after skin tumors were discovered in mice treated with the drug, according to Protagonist.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.