Gilead toss­es $100M mile­stone chip in its fast-grow­ing gam­ble on new NASH drugs

Al­most two years to the day since Gilead $GILD struck a deal worth up to $470 mil­lion for Phenex’s FXR ag­o­nist pro­gram for NASH, the big biotech has fol­lowed up with a $100 mil­lion mile­stone pay­ment. Phenex ex­ecs say that Gilead has se­lect­ed GS-9674 to test in NASH, pri­ma­ry bil­iary cholan­gi­tis (PBC) and pri­ma­ry scle­ros­ing cholan­gi­tis.

The drug is now in Phase II in all three in­di­ca­tions.

Gilead has been in­vest­ing heav­i­ly in an ex­pand­ing NASH pipeline. Last No­vem­ber it added a $200 mil­lion mile­stone — on top of a $400 mil­lion up­front — to Nim­bus for an ACC in­hibitor now known as GS-0976.

“This mile­stone pay­ment is in ad­di­tion to a fur­ther undis­closed mile­stone from the same pro­gram ear­li­er this year for GS-9674 en­ter­ing Phase I stud­ies,” said Phenex CFO Thomas Hoff­mann. And the plan is to plow that mon­ey back in­to their pipeline, aim­ing to go all the way next time on their own.

Says Hoff­man: “It al­lows us to build up a drug dis­cov­ery plat­form in liv­er and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­eases as well as in on­col­o­gy where we can af­ford to eval­u­ate rad­i­cal nov­el in­no­v­a­tive and promis­ing ap­proach­es.”

“Our next big goal is to take a drug all the way from re­search to ap­proval and mar­ket­ing,” said CEO Claus Kre­moser. The biotech is based in Lud­wigshafen, Ger­many.

Gilead faces an ar­ray of ri­vals ex­plor­ing new drugs for NASH and fat­ty liv­er dis­ease. And they’re al­so bet­ting big. Last fall Al­ler­gan $AGN hand­ed To­bi­ra in­vestors a whop­ping 6X cash pre­mi­um for the NASH-fo­cused com­pa­ny in a deal that could be worth up to $1.7 bil­lion. And just to­day J&J re­vealed that it picked up an op­tion to buy Bird Rock Bio and its NASH drug.

Gilead faces big chal­lenges on the R&D front. It’s been con­front­ed with a string of se­ri­ous set­backs on its most ad­vanced ther­a­pies as its hep C fran­chise fades and drug prices fall.

Andre Kalil, AP Images

A 9/11-era Om­a­ha fa­cil­i­ty, an old Ebo­la drug, and the ubiq­ui­tous Dr. Fau­ci: In­side the first US nov­el coro­n­avirus tri­al

The first 11 coronavirus patients who arrived in Omaha last week, airlifted across the globe after two weeks quarantined on a cruise ship, showed only minor symptoms or none at all. And then one of them — or one of the couple of Americans who arrived later — got worse. He developed pneumonia, a life-threatening complication for coronavirus patients.

In a biocontainment room at the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Friday, doctors infused him with an experimental Gilead drug once developed for Ebola, called remdesivir. Or they gave him a placebo. For the first time in the US, neither he nor the doctors knew.

The first US novel coronavirus trial was underway and with it, a mad dash for an answer. Sponsored by the NIH, the study marked a critical point in the epidemic. Since the start of the outbreak, the agency had helped lead a global effort to contain the virus. Now, as it spread worldwide and the CDC issued warnings the US could see a major internal outbreak, they were looking at home.

“We don’t have too much time,” Andre Kalil, the trial’s lead investigator, told Endpoints News. “Everything’s moving really fast.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Grow­ing ac­cep­tance of ac­cel­er­at­ed path­ways for nov­el treat­ments: but does reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval lead to com­mer­cial suc­cess?

By Mwango Kashoki, MD, MPH, Vice President-Technical, and Richard Macaulay, Senior Director, of Parexel Regulatory & Access

In recent years, we’ve seen a significant uptake in the use of regulatory options by companies looking to accelerate the journey of life-saving drugs to market. In 2018, 73% of the novel drugs approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) were designated under one or more expedited development program categories (Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, Priority Review, and Accelerated Approval).ᶦ

Olivier Brandicourt (AP Images)

Ex-Sanofi chief Olivi­er Brandi­court, cur­rent Black­stone ad­vi­sor, jumps on Al­ny­lam board

Former Sanofi chief Olivier Brandicourt, who departed his post with an unexpected early retirement last year, has made his move — as most C-suite executives inevitably do — to become a director on the board of a biopharma company.

RNAi player Alnylam is Brandicourt’s destination. Meanwhile, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drugmaker — which pioneered the first approval in the field — also disclosed the retirement of Alnylam co-founder Dr. Paul Schimmel from its board.

Jim Wilson's gene ther­a­py start­up Pas­sage Bio bucks mar­ket sen­ti­ments, rais­ing up­sized $216M IPO

A coronavirus fear-induced bloodbath on the Nasdaq has not stopped Passage Bio from making a public debut — and an exuberant one.

By pricing an upsized offering at $18, the top of the range, the gene therapy biotech bagged $216 million from its IPO, 72% more than it’s originally penciled in.

The proceeds likely reflected confidence in Jim Wilson, who gathered all the tools he’s built over decades of gene therapy research to assemble the startup and teamed up with Frazier and OrbiMed to hone its focus on rare, monogenic disorders of the central nervous system. Just before the IPO, Deerfield partner Bruce Goldsmith took over from OrbiMed’s Stephen Squinto as CEO.

Dan O'Day (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: A name emerges out of the Gilead M&A ru­mor mill, and it’s a can­cer biotech

After months of questions and speculation about when and if Gilead will make a major acquisition, a name has emerged.

The California-based drugmaker has approached Forty Seven Inc, a cancer biotech, with a takeover offer, Bloomberg News reports. With Forty Seven’s market cap at $2.3 billion, an acquisition would likely be Gilead’s largest since they acquired Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion in 2017.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Biogen head of R&D Al Sandrock, Sangamo CEO Sandy Macrae

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen makes an­oth­er bold Alzheimer’s bet, drop­ping $350M up­front to part­ner with genome-edit­ing fo­cused Sang­amo

While the fate of Biogen’s resurrected Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab remains uncertain, the Cambridge, MA-based drugmaker is joining forces with genome editing company Sangamo Therapeutics to develop therapies for neurological conditions.

Sangamo is set to receive a meaty $350 million upfront in cash and stock and is eligible to receive up to $2.37 billion in milestone payments, in addition to royalties. In return, Biogen gets the rights to two Sangamo preclinical compounds: ST-501 (for use in tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease) and ST-502 (for synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease).

“The partnership represents a lower-cost way to expand its work in neurologic disease,” Credit Suisse’s Evan Seigerman said in a note, referring to Biogen.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Take­da swoops in to buy lit­tle biotech part­ner and its celi­ac drug poised to 'change stan­dard of care'

Having spent three years carefully grooming PvP Biologics and its drug for celiac disease, Takeda is happy enough with the proof-of-concept data to buy it all.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Spark los­es an­oth­er top ex­ec in the wake of $4.3B takeover by Roche — re­port

Days after bidding farewell to co-founder Kathy High, Spark Therapeutics — now operating under Roche — has one more opening on its C-suite.

Kathy Reape

Kathy Reape, who joined the Philadelphia-based biotech in 2016 as head of clinical R&D and became chief medical officer in 2018, is reportedly set to leave.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

'The head­lines are the head­lines, but': Bio­Marin talks up po­ten­tial sav­ings as he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py launch looms

BioMarin execs are still staying tight-lipped about their pricing plans for what is poised to be the world’s first hemophilia gene therapy. But as the company enters the final regulatory stretch and approaches a potential launch this summer, they are also dropping more hints to get investors ready.

First thing to know: They really, really don’t expect an advisory committee to be convened for valrox, which is under priority review, to pop up before its PDUFA date on August 21.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 73,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.