For­bion spot­lights late-stage plays, carves out new €250M growth fund

Hav­ing staked its rep on pick­ing out a mix of biotech in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties across the “build,” “en­able,” “growth” con­tin­u­um, For­bion is launch­ing its first fund ded­i­cat­ed to late-stage op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Sander Slootweg

For­bion Growth Op­por­tu­ni­ties Fund’s first close brought in €185 mil­lion ($208 mil­lion). Ex­ist­ing in­vestors Pan­theon, KfW Cap­i­tal and the Eu­ro­pean In­vest­ment Fund came on board, joined by new back­ers Eli Lil­ly, Hori­zon Ther­a­peu­tics, Bel­gian Growth Fund and New Waves In­vest­ments.

While in­vest­ing out of the €360 mil­lion Fund IV, the team ob­served an in­crease in high-qual­i­ty com­pa­nies that are in need of siz­able “growth” cap­i­tal to push in­to the next stage, said Sander Slootweg, man­ag­ing part­ner and co-founder. (Think AM-Phar­ma, Prile­nia and Achilles Ther­a­peu­tics.)

They be­lieve this ap­proach “gives more fo­cus and su­pe­ri­or re­turns com­pared to sim­ply ex­pand­ing the size and fo­cus,” of the suc­ces­sor Fund V, added gen­er­al part­ner Dirk Ker­sten.

Eu­ro­pean phar­ma spin­outs, ma­ture clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment as­sets, crossover fund­ing for a near-term IPO and cap­i­tal in­jec­tions for un­der­val­ued pub­lic com­pa­nies are the kinds of things that would get them ex­cit­ed. Re­gard­less of the spe­cif­ic deal, For­bion Growth will strive to take lead­ing po­si­tions and put in up to €30 mil­lion each.

Dirk Ker­sten

Slootweg and Ker­sten have re­cruit­ed a star-stud­ded ad­vi­so­ry group for some en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­sight, tap­ping the CEOs of some of Eu­rope’s best known biotechs: On­no van de Stolpe of Gala­pa­gos, Jan van de Winkel of Gen­mab, Tim van Hauw­er­meiren of Ar­genx, Wern­er Lan­thaler of Evotec and Maarten de Jong of Moelis & Co.

While the new fund might share sim­i­lar dis­ease in­ter­ests with the main funds — name­ly ar­eas like car­dio­vas­cu­lar, oph­thal­mol­o­gy, der­ma­tol­ogy, spe­cial­ty/hos­pi­tal care where phar­ma is more like­ly to look for com­mer­cial-ready as­sets to buy than de­vel­op some­thing in-house — there will be lit­tle over­lap in what they ul­ti­mate­ly back.

Slootweg breaks it down:

The cut off in terms of de­vel­op­ment stage to de­cide where to al­lo­cate a deal is < phase ii => for­bion 4 and 5 and >phase ii b => for­bion growth. Oth­er cri­te­ria are % own­er­ship, pri­vate vs pub­lic or cross over.

Hav­ing start­ed so­lic­it­ing funds in Feb­ru­ary, he plans to raise €65 mil­lion more by the end of the year, as­sem­bling a port­fo­lio of 8 to 12 with €250 mil­lion to­tal.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Gold­man Sachs jumps aboard Bain-backed 503(b) com­pound­ing phar­ma­cy with a $275M debt loan to sup­ply hos­pi­tals

Long the bane of the FDA’s existence, compounding pharmacies have seen a minor resurgence in the past year as short-term saviors for hospital drug shortages. Now, a 503(b) company specializing in hospital meds has earned a big backer to keep expanding its 200-drug strong portfolio.

Goldman Sachs and Owl Rock Capital Partners have doled out a $275 million debt loan to QuVa Pharma, a 503(b)-certified outsourcing facility providing compounded drugs to hospitals, the company said Thursday.

Bill Lis, Jasper Therapeutics

Jasper and its stem cell con­di­tion­ing an­ti­body earn a tick­et to Nas­daq in lat­est SPAC re­verse merg­er

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

Another biotech SPAC deal has landed as the glut of blank-check companies continues to make waves in the industry.

Thursday’s winner is Jasper Therapeutics, joining forces with Amplitude Healthcare Acquisition Corp. in a $100 million reverse-merger, Jasper announced. The deal also comes with a PIPE financing of an additional $100 million, setting Jasper up with a $490 million market cap once the merger closes in the third quarter.

Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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Drug pric­ing watch­dog joins the cho­rus of crit­ics on Bio­gen's ad­u­canum­ab: What about charg­ing $2,560 per year?

As if Biogen’s aducanumab isn’t controversial enough, the researchers at drug pricing watchdog ICER have drawn up the contours of a new debate: If the therapy does get approved for Alzheimer’s by June, what price should it command?

Their answer: At most $8,290 per year — and perhaps as little as $2,560.

Even at the top of the range, the proposed price is a fraction of the $50,000 that Wall Street has reportedly come to expect (although RBC analyst Brian Abrahams puts the consensus figure at $11.5K). With critics, including experts on the FDA’s advisory committee, making their fierce opposition to aducanumab’s approval loud and clear, the pricing pressure adds one extra wrinkle Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos doesn’t need as he orders full-steam preparation for a launch.