Ex-Cel­gene CEO Bob Hug­in makes a leap back in­to biotech, join­ing an em­bat­tled Al­ler­gan's board

Bob Hug­in is back.

The for­mer Cel­gene CEO, who stepped down from the top job when the big biotech’s shares and rep were rid­ing high in the sad­dle, is jump­ing on­to the board at Al­ler­gan $AGN — which is slow­ly thaw­ing to the idea of re­vamp­ing its lead­er­ship struc­ture.

Brent Saun­ders

Un­der pres­sure from the hedge fund Ap­paloosa LP to di­vide the role of chair­man and CEO, Al­ler­gan’s board and CEO Brent Saun­ders used the news of Hug­in’s ar­rival on the board to note that the com­pa­ny will do that — even­tu­al­ly.

From the state­ment:

(T)he Al­ler­gan Board of Di­rec­tors to­day an­nounced its in­ten­tion to rec­om­mend FOR a pend­ing share­hold­er pro­pos­al, which will al­so ap­pear in Al­ler­gan’s 2019 proxy state­ment, re­quir­ing an In­de­pen­dent Board Chair to be phased in dur­ing the next lead­er­ship tran­si­tion.

When will that next tran­si­tion be? We don’t know. For now, Saun­ders re­mains com­plete­ly in charge, with the back­ing of his board.

In the mean­time, Hug­in — who lost his bid (and a for­tune) in a run for a New Jer­sey Sen­ate seat last fall — was ready to put his shoul­der to the wheel of in­vestor val­ue.

In Al­ler­gan, I see a com­pa­ny with mar­ket lead­ing po­si­tions in four ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas, a promis­ing R&D pipeline and a fo­cus on ex­e­cut­ing its busi­ness strat­e­gy. I look for­ward to con­tribut­ing to the board’s ef­fec­tive, in­de­pen­dent over­sight of Al­ler­gan’s strat­e­gy.

Al­ler­gan needs all the help it can get right now.

Its 2019 guid­ance has dis­en­chant­ed in­vestors, fur­ther pum­mel­ing the com­pa­ny’s al­ready bat­tered stock price as the ac­tivists stepped up pres­sure on the lead­er­ship.

Hug­in’s old com­pa­ny Cel­gene al­so lost quite a bit of in­vestor val­ue in the 3 years since he stepped down, tak­ing the chair­man’s job for awhile. But dur­ing his reign the com­pa­ny swelled in­to the top 15 glob­al tier, build­ing a rep as one of the most pro­lif­ic — and com­pe­tent — deal­mak­ers in bio­phar­ma. Bris­tol-My­ers is buy­ing the much-di­min­ished com­pa­ny now for $74 bil­lion in cash and stock.

Im­age: Bob Hug­in. AP IM­AGES

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

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Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

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Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

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Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

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Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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