For­mer No­var­tis phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals chief David Ep­stein is go­ing biotech


David Ep­stein is join­ing a long line­up of ex­ecs who are ex­chang­ing Big Phar­ma ti­tles for a promi­nent place in the biotech world. The for­mer No­var­tis phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals chief is join­ing the biotech VC Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing as an ex­ec­u­tive part­ner, a new role at the trend­set­ting ven­ture group.

Ep­stein’s first role as biotech en­tre­pre­neur will in­volve tak­ing the chair­man’s job at Ru­bius Ther­a­peu­tics. And he’ll be play­ing an ac­tive role in Flag­ship’s oth­er in­vest­ments, which con­cen­trate heav­i­ly on the ax­is of aca­d­e­m­ic re­search and clin­i­cal work.

Ep­stein joined an ex­o­dus of No­var­tis ex­ecs who have been leav­ing the phar­ma gi­ant as it con­tin­ues a seem­ing­ly nev­er-end­ing re­struc­tur­ing and re­align­ment of as­sets. Alessan­dro Ri­va just de­part­ed the R&D group at No­var­tis to join Gilead as head of on­col­o­gy R&D. And Us­man “Oz” Azam left last year to jump over to a start­up launched by Carl June called Tmu­ni­ty af­ter No­var­tis opt­ed to dis­solve its big cell and gene ther­a­py unit. In Ep­stein’s case, his de­par­ture came as No­var­tis re­vamped its phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals unit.

Big phar­ma ex­ecs like Chris Viehbach­er, ex-Sanofi CEO, and for­mer As­traZeneca R&D chief Brig­gs Mor­ri­son al­so made the leap to biotech, which has been boom­ing as the phar­ma gi­ants strug­gle to main­tain port­fo­lios and fight off gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion.

“Join­ing Flag­ship’s dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion en­gine is an op­por­tu­ni­ty of a life­time, and I wel­come the op­por­tu­ni­ty to bring my pas­sion for med­i­cine, deep knowl­edge and ties to in­dus­try, and com­mit­ment to solv­ing some of the world’s great­est health chal­lenges to bear,” Ep­stein said in a state­ment. “In par­tic­u­lar, I am tremen­dous­ly ex­cit­ed by the promise of Ru­bius’ Red-Cell Ther­a­peu­tics plat­form, as it por­tends the broad im­pact of off-the-shelf, pre­ci­sion cell ther­a­pies.”

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

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An internal analysis commissioned by Link suggested that the collective loss could amount to £1 billion — out of a fund last valued at £3.1 billion — Citywire has revealed.

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Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

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Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

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FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

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Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

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Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

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