Genen­tech inks $359M deal with Kine­ta; Celldex bat­tered af­ter ADC flops in PhI­Ib

Genen­tech is com­mit­ting up to $359 mil­lion to pur­sue a nov­el tar­get for chron­ic neu­ro­path­ic pain. Their part­ner in this ex­clu­sive op­tion and li­cense agree­ment is Seat­tle-based Kine­ta Chron­ic Pain, which will be de­vel­op­ing α9/α10 nico­tinic acetyl­choline re­cep­tor (nAChR) an­tag­o­nists for the col­lab­o­ra­tion un­til Genen­tech steps in to grab de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion rights. Kine­ta be­lieves that the tar­get may lead to a “safer ther­a­py that is non-ad­dic­tive and non-to­ler­iz­ing.” The break­down be­tween up­front and mile­stones was not dis­closed, though we do know that Kine­ta is in for high sin­gle to low dou­ble-dig­it roy­al­ties if the as­sets ever make it to mar­ket.

→ A painful re­struc­tur­ing might be in the works at Celldex $CLDX, where ex­ecs have de­cid­ed to scrap an an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate pro­gram fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing Phase IIb read­out. The Hamp­ton, NJ biotech re­port­ed that its drug, glem­bat­u­mum­ab ve­dotin, failed to do any bet­ter in pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival among pa­tients with metasta­t­ic triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cers who over­ex­press gly­co­pro­tein NMB when com­pared to Xelo­da, a chemo drug. (And that was a con­clu­sion based on a p-val­ue of 0.76.) None of the sec­ondary end­points — over­all re­sponse rate, du­ra­tion of re­sponse and over­all sur­vival — were met. This does not bode well for the com­pa­ny, which saw a Phase III can­cer vac­cine tri­al halt­ed a cou­ple of years back due to its ex­treme in­ef­fec­tive­ness. Celldex fell even deep­er in­to pen­ny stock ter­ri­to­ry, plung­ing 52% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing.

→ Look­ing to pi­o­neer PD-1/L1 check­points in Chi­na, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb $BMY has out­lined the pos­i­tive da­ta it ob­tained in a late-stage study of Op­di­vo among a large group of pri­mar­i­ly Chi­nese lung can­cer pa­tients. In a study as a sec­ond-line ther­a­py, Op­di­vo hit on the pri­ma­ry end­point of over­all sur­vival, with a haz­ard ra­tio of 0.68 in Check­Mate-078. The over­all re­sponse rate was 17% for Op­di­vo ver­sus 4% in the chemo arm. And the risk of death was re­duced by 32%. Lung can­cer is a ma­jor mar­ket in Chi­na, and Bris­tol-My­ers is look­ing to get out ahead of the grow­ing num­ber of ri­vals in­side Chi­na with a PD-1/L1 of their own. It’s not mov­ing fast, though. Chi­na’s drug agency ac­cept­ed Bris­tol-My­ers’ ap­pli­ca­tion in No­vem­ber, 2017 — 17 months ago. Reg­u­la­tors there, though, have been promis­ing to speed things up.

Sofinno­va Part­ners is putting its crossover fund dol­lars to work. For the first in­vest­ment in the fund’s port­fo­lio, the ven­ture cap­i­tal firm led a $33.5 mil­lion Se­ries C for France’s Lim­Flow, which is mak­ing an en­dovas­cu­lar treat­ment for crit­i­cal limb is­chemia. Ki­nam Hong, a part­ner of the Sofinno­va Crossover I Fund, will join the board of di­rec­tors.

→ De­spite de­ba­cles with its Dengue and Clostrid­i­um dif­fi­cile vac­cines, Sanofi be­lieves vac­cines is the way to go, and it is putting mon­ey be­hind that res­o­lu­tion. The French drug­mak­er is spend­ing $431 mil­lion (€350 mil­lion) on a new man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Toron­to, with plans to dou­ble its vac­cine out­put by 2023. The 150,000-square-foot fa­cil­i­ty will be built on the cam­pus of Sanofi’s head­quar­ters in Cana­da, a cen­tral re­gion for its vac­cines busi­ness.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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