Fra­zier clos­es 12th fund in 30 years, with $617M to bet on cell/gene ther­a­py, Big Phar­ma spin­offs and more

The team at Fra­zier Health­care did a num­ber of deals that ex­em­pli­fied its wide-rang­ing strat­e­gy in 2019: Tachi Ya­ma­da worked with gene ther­a­py pi­o­neer Jim Wil­son to launch Pas­sage Bio; Mike Gal­latin sold Mavuphar­ma and its STING-tar­get­ed small mol­e­cule to Ab­b­Vie; and Bhaskar Chaud­huri flipped Ar­cutis to an IPO just months af­ter in­tro­duc­ing it to the world via a crossover round close to $100 mil­lion. They’re now kick­ing off 2020 with a new, big­ger fund that will give them fire­pow­er to do more.

Patrick Heron Fra­zier

At $617 mil­lion, Fund X is “fair­ly dra­mat­i­cal­ly” big­ger than their last fund, said man­ag­ing part­ner Patrick Heron.

“We’re in­creas­ing­ly go­ing af­ter new ther­a­peu­tic modal­i­ties like gene ther­a­py, cell ther­a­py, neoanti­gens and be­cause those need sig­nif­i­cant man­u­fac­tur­ing and CMC in­vest­ment or in­vest­ing more dol­lars per com­pa­ny,” he told End­points News.

He sees Fra­zier pour­ing around $40 mil­lion in­to each com­pa­ny — sup­port­ing them through every stage, whether it’s helped with the launch or joined through a lat­er syn­di­cate — though that could vary if, say, they sell a com­pa­ny right af­ter Se­ries A. By that es­ti­mate, the new fund could touch any­where from 15 to 25 biotechs.

Jamie Brush

About a third of the port­fo­lio is re­served for home­grown star­tups, an­oth­er 15% to 25% for pub­lic se­cu­ri­ties, and the rest is in-be­tween.

Heron is one of three lead­ing the fund; he’s joined by man­ag­ing part­ner James Top­per and Dan Estes, who’s just been pro­mot­ed to gen­er­al part­ner. Al­so in­volved will be Jamie Brush, new­ly made part­ner af­ter spear­head­ing in­vest­ments in pub­lic se­cu­ri­ties for the past three years.

Fra­zier is hap­py to both cre­ate and syn­di­cate with its “ven­ture brethren,” Heron added, cit­ing Or­biMed as a friend.

The con­gre­ga­tion has grown ex­po­nen­tial­ly since Fra­zier first put its feet down three decades ago.

“When I start­ed at Fra­zier, there were prob­a­bly 10 to 15 life sci­ences fo­cused VC funds,” said Heron, who’s just cel­e­brat­ed his 20th year at the firm, “and now there’s prob­a­bly 100.”

It gives Fra­zier a lengthy track record to boast — which can be par­tic­u­lar­ly help­ful when they pitch big­ger play­ers on biotech spin­offs such as Phath­om Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, now de­vel­op­ing one of Take­da’s GI drugs.

“Phar­ma com­pa­nies have be­come more re­cep­tive to that when they see sub­stan­tial val­ue ac­cru­al to them,” Heron said. “And it’s pub­lic now: Take­da owns prob­a­bly about $200 mil­lion worth of stock in Phath­om, and so they are ba­si­cal­ly de­riv­ing a lot of eco­nom­ic val­ue from the part­ner­ship, and what they’re al­so fo­cused on is the qual­i­ty of teams we can put around their as­set such that the pro­gram will reach the clin­ic and ben­e­fit pa­tients.”

Two for­mer Cel­gene ex­ecs from the glob­al in­flam­ma­tion and im­munol­o­gy fran­chise have been re­cruit­ed to the C-suite at Phath­om, in­clud­ing CEO Ter­rie Cur­ran and CCO Mar­tin Gilli­gan.

De­spite the lack of big check M&A at the be­gin­ning of the year and an elec­tion loom­ing in No­vem­ber, Heron re­mains op­ti­mistic as their deal flow has been in line with the ex­pec­ta­tion of 2 to 3 sales per year. And the same goes for IPO.

“I think you will see a lot of com­pa­nies sort of back­ing up the truck and load­ing up with as much cap­i­tal as they can, with prob­a­bly less ro­bust ac­tiv­i­ty in the sec­ond half of the year,” he said.

Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Alexander Lefterov/Endpoints News

A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Brian Thomas, Metagenomi CEO

Gen 2: Berke­ley spin­out lands $175M megaround to keep it on the cut­ting edge of the boom­ing gene-edit­ing field

The big bucks keep pumping into the gene-editing field.

This morning Metagenomi, allied with one of the biggest names in the mRNA field with a company DNA that includes the ubiquitous Jennifer Doudna, is showing off a $175 million B round that will pay for a rapid swelling of its staff in pursuit of some of the cutting-edge tech that keeps this field in the spotlight. And they’re aligning themselves with some major industry players with an eye on the clinic while getting behind some startups to help expand the work into new fields.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Roy Baynes, Merck

FDA bats back Mer­ck’s ‘pipeline in a prod­uct,’ de­mands more ef­fi­ca­cy da­ta

Despite some heavy blowback from analysts, Merck execs maintained an upbeat attitude about the market potential of its chronic cough drug gefapixant. But the confidence may be fading somewhat today as Merck puts out news that the FDA is handing back its application with a CRL.

Dubbed by Merck’s development chief Roy Baynes as a “pipeline in a product” with a variety of potential uses, Merck had fielded positive late-stage data demonstrating the drug’s ability to combat chronic cough. The drug dramatically reduced chronic cough in Phase III, but so did placebo, leaving Merck’s research team with a marginal success on the p-value side of the equation.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 129,600+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.