From Agios to De­ci­phera, Steve Ho­ert­er plots an­oth­er on­col­o­gy launch; Roche ex­ec Chris­tiane Hamachar moves to In­dia as CEO of Bio­con Bi­o­log­ics

De­ci­phera $DCPH has scooped Agios’ chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Steve Ho­ert­er to fill re­tir­ing CEO Michael Tay­lor’s shoes. The Waltham, MA-based biotech is plac­ing its trust in Ho­ert­er’s sales acu­men, es­pe­cial­ly for can­cer drugs, ac­quired through­out his ca­reer at com­pa­nies like Clo­vis, Roche, Genen­tech, Ch­i­ron, and Eli Lil­ly. The first Phase III tri­al of ripretinib, in gas­troin­testi­nal tu­mors, is due to read out soon.

→ Japan’s Sum­it­o­mo Dainip­pon Phar­ma has tapped clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment chief Antony Loebel to helm its Marl­bor­ough, MA-based sub­sidiary Sunovion. Loebel takes over the CEO job from Nobuhiko Tamu­ra, who presided over the com­pa­ny for five years, with the last two marked by a cou­ple of FDA re­jec­tions. Fol­low­ing a stint at Pfiz­er, Loebel joined the com­pa­ny in 2007 and has played a cen­tral role in its R&D work on psy­chi­a­try, neu­rol­o­gy and res­pi­ra­to­ry con­di­tions.

→ As An­tho­ny Zook re­tires from In­no­coll Hold­ings, the spe­cial­ty phar­ma has pro­mot­ed its chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer and BD head to the CEO post. As­traZeneca vet Richard Fante as­sumes the top role amid the com­pa­ny’s on­go­ing ef­fort to make a come­back on its pain ther­a­pies af­ter get­ting ac­quired by Gur­net Point Cap­i­tal.

→ Hav­ing man­aged phar­ma op­er­a­tions around the world first for Scher­ing and then Roche, Chris­tiane Hamachar is mak­ing In­dia her next stop. As CEO of Bio­con Bi­o­log­ics, Hamachar will over­see the com­pa­ny’s grow­ing busi­ness in biosim­i­lars, with eyes to groom­ing a ma­jor glob­al play­er, said Bio­con chief Ki­ran Mazum­dar-Shaw.

→ Prep­ping for a Phase IIb study set to be­gin lat­er this year, No­varemed has ap­point­ed Nicholas Draeger as CEO. Af­ter found­ing and lead­ing the com­pa­ny for more than 10 years — through a move from Is­rael to Switzer­landEli Ka­plan is tran­si­tion­ing to a sup­port­ive role re­gard­ing the de­vel­op­ment of its lead drug for di­a­bet­ic neu­ro­path­ic pain. The ap­point­ment marks a re­turn to biotech for Draeger, who spent the ear­ly days of his ca­reer at Roche and lat­er got in­to health­care in­vest­ing but has been run­ning a processed food com­pa­ny.

Alessan­dro Ri­va, who joined Gilead just a lit­tle more than 2 years ago, left his post as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of on­col­o­gy “to pur­sue an­oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ty.” Min­utes af­ter that news hit, it was re­vealed that Ri­va is shift­ing over to lead the new biotech spin­off from In­dia’s Glen­mark, which will be based in the US. Ri­va will be CEO of the sub­sidiary com­pa­ny, which will have its own board and be heav­i­ly fo­cused on on­col­o­gy and T cells, with “five clin­i­cal and three pre­clin­i­cal as­sets in de­vel­op­ment, three clin­i­cal as­sets cur­rent­ly in Phase 2b, and one as­set like­ly to en­ter Phase 2b in FY20.”

→ South San Fran­cis­co-based Am­phive­na Ther­a­peu­tics has wooed Ar­mo founder Pe­ter Van Vlas­se­laer to be its ex­ec­u­tive chair­man while tap­ping Vic­to­ria Smith to lead its T cell en­gager re­search as CSO. Jump­ing from a se­nior role in Gilead’s bi­o­log­ics and tar­get bi­ol­o­gy group, Smith brings a trans­la­tion­al back­ground in tar­get­ed can­cer ther­a­peu­tics that fits Am­phive­na’s bill of im­muno-on­col­o­gy drugs treat­ing myeloid ma­lig­nan­cies and sol­id tu­mors.

→ A year af­ter rais­ing a mod­est Se­ries A to de­vel­op its pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics tech for drug dis­cov­ery, Owkin has brought in more high pro­file in­vestors and a new chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. Most re­cent­ly, Park­er Moss was en­tre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence at F-Prime Cap­i­tal and Eight Roads, the two lead­ers in the un­spec­i­fied ven­ture round. Moss’ main re­spon­si­bil­i­ty is to “strength­en Owkin’s part­ner­ships with hos­pi­tals, aca­d­e­m­ic cen­ters, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and biotech com­pa­nies” by chan­nel­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence as a se­nior ex­ec at the NHS, ac­cord­ing to Owkin. Bruno St­rig­i­ni, No­var­tis’ for­mer head of on­col­o­gy, has joined as chair­man of the board.

→ Ra­dio­ther­a­peu­tics de­vel­op­er Fu­sion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has named John J. Crow­ley (not to be con­fused with Am­i­cus’ John F. Crow­ley) its CFO, tasked with sup­port­ing “ag­gres­sive growth” as the biotech march­es in­to the clin­ic. En­gi­neered to de­liv­er al­pha par­ti­cles to can­cer cells, its lead drug, FPI-1434, con­sists of an an­ti­body di­rect­ed to­ward the in­sulin-like growth fac­tor-1 re­cep­tor 1 (IGF-1R) and an ac­tini­um-225.

Troy Ignelzi is the new CFO at Karuna, work­ing with Steve Paul to man­age the start­up biotech’s big bet on cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem dis­or­ders with KarXT. The sea­soned ex­ec is joined by Ja­son Park­er Brown, pre­vi­ous­ly of PureTech Health, who’s been hired as VP of fi­nance.

Abzena has re­cruit­ed con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­pert Elaine Sapinoso as SVP of glob­al qual­i­ty to sup­port an ex­pan­sion of its sites in San Diego and Bris­tol, PA, as well as the part­ner­ships with its bio­phar­ma clients.

→ Af­ter spend­ing 12 years in strat­e­gy con­sult­ing and in­vest­ment bank­ing, Anne Moore is mak­ing the leap to in­dus­try with the CAR-T en­gi­neers at Celyad. Of­fi­cial­ly the VP of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, Moore will be based in the biotech’s $CYAD head­quar­ters in Bel­gium.

→ Den­mark’s LEO Phar­ma is beef­ing up its in­no­va­tion unit in Boston by hir­ing Vladimir Mo­ro­zov, Shire’s bioin­for­mat­ics so­lu­tion ar­chi­tect, as se­nior di­rec­tor of bioin­for­mat­ics. At LEO Sci­ence & Tech Hub, he will iden­ti­fy and run col­lab­o­ra­tors while dri­ving bio­mark­er de­vel­op­ment for LEO’s der­ma­to­log­i­cal meds.

Kiadis Phar­ma is gear­ing up to launch its blood can­cer drug, and it’s get­ting its ex­ec team ready for it. Cur­rent head of sup­ply chain Dirk de Naey­er, who jumped to the Am­s­ter­dam biotech from Janssen late last year, is get­ting a swift pro­mo­tion to COO. He suc­ceeds Jan Fei­jen. Mar­tine Nolan has al­so joined as head of qual­i­ty as­sur­ance.

Ve­r­ana Health has en­list­ed sev­er­al bio­phar­ma ex­ecs for its quest to ac­cel­er­ate med­ical re­search by as­sem­bling “the largest clin­i­cal data­bas­es in med­i­cine.” Hyl­ton Kalvaria, Flat­iron’s West Coast chief, comes on as VP of strate­gic part­ner­ships; Ron Cantrell is prin­ci­pal da­ta sci­en­tist, the same role he held in Genen­tech; head of prod­uct Karim Damji joins from clin­i­cal da­ta an­a­lyt­ics com­pa­ny Saa­ma. Marie-Eve Piche, a vet­er­an of Gen­er­al Electrics, is the new CFO.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.