Jim Tananbaum, Foresite

Fore­site re­turns to the SPAC well, as in­vestors won­der how long the run can last

Six months af­ter launch­ing his first biotech SPAC, Fore­site’s Jim Tanan­baum has start­ed a sec­ond. On Tues­day, the long­time life sci­ence in­vestor filed to raise $100 mil­lion by sell­ing 10 mil­lion shares of the blank check com­pa­ny FS de­vel­op­ment II.

It’s a quick re­turn to Wall Street for Fore­site, al­though oth­er firms have moved quick­er. Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors raised a $130 mil­lion SPAC in June and were back be­fore the end of Ju­ly to raise an­oth­er $125 mil­lion. By that point, the firm was ev­i­dent­ly near­ing a deal for the June SPAC, which would an­nounce a half-bil­lion-dol­lar merg­er with Cerev­el Ther­a­peu­tics on Ju­ly 30.

Tanan­baum sim­i­lar­ly man­aged to find a quick home for his first SPAC, merg­ing with the ge­net­ics-dri­ven eye dis­ease com­pa­ny Gem­i­ni Ther­a­peu­tics in a $216 mil­lion deal in Oc­to­ber. Bruce Booth, a part­ner at At­las Ven­ture, which helped launch Gem­i­ni, praised the deal at the time as the ar­che­type for a good SPAC tar­get: A com­pa­ny that hasn’t yet raised a crossover round but al­ready has an es­tab­lished pipeline that will gen­er­ate clin­i­cal da­ta.

The new S-1 of­fers few de­tails on Tanan­baum’s po­ten­tial tar­gets out­side of what’s be­come boil­er­plate lan­guage for life sci­ences SPACs. They’ll have two years to find a merg­er part­ner.

The new Fore­site of­fer­ing was one of two SPACs to file this week, join­ing the blunt­ly named Biotech Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. It was found­ed by Michael Shleifer, co-founder of SPRIM, which in­vests in and pro­vides ser­vices for CRO, health tech and oth­er life sci­ences and health­care com­pa­nies. Ac­cord­ing­ly, de­pend­ing on how you de­fine “biotech,” the SPAC’s ti­tle is a bit of a mis­nomer: They will al­so be look­ing at health tech and med­ical de­vice com­pa­nies for merg­ers.

Shleifer will look to raise even more than Fore­site, fil­ing for a $230 mil­lion of­fer.

Both firms, though, are fil­ing just as an­a­lysts be­gin to ques­tion how long the SPAC run can last. On Twit­ter, pri­vate in­vestor Brad Lon­car not­ed SPACs can be lu­cra­tive for VCs, cost­ing them just a few mil­lion dol­lars to bring pub­lic a com­pa­ny worth sev­er­al hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

Still, he won­dered, whether the num­ber of SPACs was out­pac­ing the num­ber of vi­able tar­get com­pa­nies.

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.

Ron DePinho (file photo)

A 'fly­over' biotech launch­es in Texas with four Ron De­Pin­ho-found­ed com­pa­nies un­der its belt

In his 13 years at Genzyme, Michael Wyzga noticed something about East Coast drugmakers. Execs would often jet from Boston or New York to San Francisco to find more assets, and completely miss the work being done in flyover states, like Texas or Wisconsin.

“If it doesn’t come out of MGH or MIT or Harvard, probably not that interesting,” he said of the mindset.

Now, he and some well-known industry players are looking to change that, and they’ve reeled in just over $38 million to do it.

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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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Joe Wiley, Amryt CEO

A biotech with a yen for pricey rare dis­ease drugs — and bar­gain base­ment shop­ping — adopts an­oth­er or­phan in lat­est M&A pact

After making it through a long, painful haul to get past a CRL and on to an FDA approval last summer, little Chiasma has found a buyer.

Amryt $AMYT, a company known for its appetite for acquiring expensive drugs for rare diseases at bargain prices, snagged Chiasma and its acromegaly drug Mycapssa (octreotide) capsules in an all-stock deal — with an exchange of 0.396 shares of Amryt for every share of Chiasma.

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.

Paul Hastings, Nkarta CEO

With no up­front pay­ment or mile­stones on the line, Nkar­ta and CRISPR join forces on CAR-NK search

Most deals in biotech come with hefty upfront payments attached, and the promise of big biobucks if a program works out. Not this one.

Nkarta has struck what CEO Paul Hastings calls a “real collaboration” with CRISPR Therapeutics to co-develop and commercialize two CAR-NK therapies, in addition to an NK+T program. The duo will split all R&D costs — and any worldwide profits — 50/50, Hastings said.

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.