Gen­zyme founder, biotech en­tre­pre­neur and in­dus­try leg­end Hen­ri Ter­meer dies

Hen­ri Ter­meer, one of the great­est and most suc­cess­ful vi­sion­ar­ies in biotech, has died. Ac­cord­ing to the Boston Globe, Ter­meer col­lapsed at his Mar­ble­head home on Fri­day evening. He was 71.

Ter­meer’s lega­cy rests on grow­ing Gen­zyme in­to a world leader in or­phan drug R&D, de­vel­op­ing drugs for tiny pa­tient pop­u­la­tions, sav­ing lives and pi­o­neer­ing an ag­gres­sive pric­ing strat­e­gy that made the field a pop­u­lar fo­cus among a whole gen­er­a­tion of star­tups. (The 10 most ex­pen­sive ther­a­pies on the plan­et are all or­phan drugs.) Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbach­er saw the val­ue, and bought the com­pa­ny for about $20 bil­lion in 2011, af­ter Ter­meer had run the com­pa­ny for 30 years — a rare feat in this in­dus­try.

Over the last six years, Ter­meer stayed ac­tive in biotech, serv­ing on boards at Mod­er­na, Ve­rastem and oth­ers and in­vest­ing part of the $158 mil­lion wind­fall of cash he earned in the Sanofi buy­out in a long line­up of up­starts. Ar­rakis, found­ed by se­r­i­al en­tre­pre­neur Michael Gilman, was the most re­cent to earn his sup­port just last Feb­ru­ary. He backed Kees Been as a co-founder at Lyso­so­mal Ther­a­peu­tics. And he clear­ly en­joyed work­ing with many of his old Gen­zyme col­leagues as they left to take oth­er po­si­tions in the Biotech/Cam­bridge biotech hub he helped cre­ate.

He nev­er lost his love of launch­ing new com­pa­nies.

“It is just in that phase of try­ing to de­fine its iden­ti­ty and what it is go­ing to de­vel­op all the way by it­self,” Ter­meer said of Mod­er­na back in 2013 in an in­ter­view with Fierce­Biotech. “That is a fan­tas­tic mo­ment be­cause with that you shape what the fu­ture will look like.”

Ter­meer al­ways kept fo­cused on shap­ing the fu­ture. And biotech will be feel­ing the ef­fects for years to come.

We’ve gath­ered a few trib­utes from Twit­ter and we’ll con­tin­ue to add to this through Sun­day.

Im­age: Feb. 16, 2011: Hen­ri Ter­meer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Gen­zyme, lis­tens dur­ing a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the deal where France’s Sanofi-Aven­tis agreed to buy Ter­meer’s com­pa­ny, end­ing a nine-month pur­suit of Gen­zyme. Bloomberg via Get­ty Im­ages

 

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Al Sandrock, Biogen R&D chief (Biogen via YouTube)

Bio­gen has a shaky end to H1 with a $542M write-off adding to its woes — but an­a­lysts see big rev­enue ahead for Aduhelm

All eyes at Biogen’s Q2 earnings call Thursday were on Aduhelm, but investors also got a glimpse of what Biogen would have faced had the FDA not opted to approve their controversial Alzheimer’s drug.

That glimpse, revealing a combination of declining sales, growing competition and failed medicines, underscores the stakes of the big biotech’s Aduhelm efforts, as execs punch back at the criticism they’ve engendered in the political and medical world and vigorously pushes its sales staff to roll out the drug as fast as possible.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ex-Mer­ck chief Ken Fra­zier takes a lead­ing role in a $600M 'Health As­sur­ance' ven­ture fund

Ken Frazier has opened up a new chapter in his storied career.

The ex-Merck CEO is joining a high-minded venture group with plans to carve a unique role for itself at the well-traveled juncture of tech and life sciences. And the new job comes through an old college buddy.

Officially, Frazier now becomes chairman of General Catalyst’s health assurance initiative. Their $600 million fund was unveiled back in early April, planning to invest in companies that could push the “evolution from a ‘sick care’ system to a resilient, proactive Health Assurance system designed to help people stay well, bend the cost curve, and make quality care more affordable and more accessible to all.”

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Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics Can Trans­form Can­cer Care. Let’s Make It Hap­pen.

Like so many people around the world, my life has been profoundly shaped by cancer. Those personal experiences, along with a deep love of clinical laboratory science and a passion to apply the power of genomics in medicine, motivated me to launch a company that would improve cancer care through better diagnostics. Thirteen years later, I am proud that we are delivering more accurate information at multiple points along the patient journey, with a focus on eight of the 10 cancers that are most commonly diagnosed in the United States.