Gold­man Sach­s' Ankang Li heads to biotech Terns as new CFO; SV re­cruits new part­ner for De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund

Ankang Li Busi­ness Wire

→ Fresh off a NASH deal with French drug­mak­er Gen­fit, Terns Phar­ma has ap­point­ed Ankang Li as CFO. The Chi­nese biotech scooped Li from Gold­man Sachs, where he led high pro­file biotech IPOs as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of health­care in­vest­ment bank­ing. A law school grad­u­ate with a back­ground in bio­med­ical re­search — his ca­reer has tak­en him to Salk In­sti­tute and Mer­ck’s Asia Pa­cif­ic in­no­va­tion hub — Li will hold ex­ten­sive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in cor­po­rate fi­nanc­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

→ Ven­ture Cap­i­tal SV Health In­vestors an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Jonathan Behr as part­ner in the De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund — which at the com­ple­tion of its fundrais­ing in 2018 raised £250 mil­lion ($350 mil­lion). Behr joins the fund from JDRF T1D fund, where he served as its first man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. He brings ex­pe­ri­ence from var­i­ous roles at PureTech Ven­tures, En­light Bio­sciences and more than 13 oth­er com­pa­nies. 

Mitchell Chan Linkedin

Viela Bio has pro­mot­ed Mitchell Chan, one of the As­traZeneca ex­ecs who mi­grat­ed to the spin­out, to CFO. Hav­ing as­sist­ed in rais­ing cap­i­tal as head of fi­nance and cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, he will now add trea­sury, in­vestor re­la­tions and oth­er re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to his plate. His place­ment in the C-suite comes at a time Viela is gear­ing up to bring its lead drug, inebi­lizum­ab, to the FDA.

→ The mak­er of the wide­ly-abused opi­oid drug Oxy­con­tin, Pur­due Phar­ma is try­ing to leave its bad rep­u­ta­tion be­hind and re­build its R&D sec­tor with the ap­point­ment of Julie Ducharme as the com­pa­ny’s vice pres­i­dent and CSO. The com­pa­ny says that Ducharme will al­so “sup­port the com­pa­ny’s on­go­ing ef­forts to help ad­dress the opi­oid ad­dic­tion cri­sis.” Ducharme has 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der her belt and brings skills from her time at As­traZeneca, Mu­nid­phar­ma and the Na­tion­al Re­search Coun­cil (Cana­da). Pur­due Phar­ma is re­port­ed­ly con­sid­er­ing bank­rupt­cy — a route tak­en by Sub­sys-mak­er In­syswhich is re­port­ed­ly con­sid­er­ing bank­rupt­cy — a route tak­en by Sub­sys-mak­er In­sys.

Julie Ducharme Linkedin

→ Swiss-based Ob­sE­va — a com­pa­ny fo­cus­ing on ther­a­pies for con­di­tions that com­pro­mise the fe­male re­pro­duc­tive health and preg­nan­cy — wel­comed Eliz­a­beth Gar­ner to the ranks as its CMO. The cur­rent CMO and head of phar­ma­covig­i­lance, Elke Bestel, will be nom­i­nat­ed as the com­pa­ny’s vice pres­i­dent, head of drug safe­ty and phar­ma­covig­i­lance and re­main on Ob­sE­va’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Most re­cent­ly, Gar­ner served as CMO and SVP clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Ag­ile Ther­a­peu­tics. Her pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Myr­i­ad Ge­net­ics Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries — where she was the clin­i­cal lead of the en­dometrio­sis pro­gram for the now FDA-ap­proved elagolix (Orilis­sa).

→ CEO and pres­i­dent of Arch On­col­o­gy — a clin­i­cal-stage im­muno-on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny de­vel­op­ing an­ti-CD47 mAbs — Julie Cher­ring­ton, has joined the board of di­rec­tors at Mi­rati Ther­a­peu­tics — a biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny fo­cused on can­cer ther­a­pies. Cher­ring­ton was the key con­trib­u­tor to the de­vel­op­ment of FDA-ap­proved prod­ucts Su­tent, Pal­la­dia, Vis­tide, Viread and Hep­sera. Cher­ring­ton has a wealth of ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and has served at Gilead Sci­ences, Zenith Epi­ge­net­ics and Path­way Ther­a­peu­tics among oth­ers. 

Eliz­a­beth Gar­ner Linkedin

In­Med Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — a com­pa­ny fo­cused on cannabi­noids — has ap­point­ed Take­da vet Cather­ine Saz­danoff to its board of di­rec­tors. Saz­danoff joined Take­da in 2006 and pri­or to that, she served in var­i­ous roles at Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries since 1984. Saz­danoff is al­so the in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor of the board of Merid­i­an Bio­science and the cur­rent pres­i­dent and CEO of Saz­danoff Con­sult­ing

Squarex, a low-pro­file biotech work­ing on a pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment for cold sores, has tapped a sea­soned CEO to suc­ceed its founder at the helm. Jack Tal­ley joins just past his four-year an­niver­sary with Izun Phar­ma, which fol­lowed pre­vi­ous stints at Alis­sa, Ac­tini­um and Epi­Cept. He is charged with steer­ing SQX770, a top­i­cal for­mu­la­tion of the im­munomod­u­la­tor squar­ic acid dibutyl es­ter, from Phase II tri­als to­ward an ap­proval. Hugh Mc­Tavish, who co-in­vent­ed the com­pa­ny’s tech­nol­o­gy with hopes of one-up­ping cur­rent drugs for her­pes labi­alis, is tran­si­tion­ing to an ex­ec­u­tive chair­man role.

Julie Cher­ring­ton Linkedin

SOPHiA GE­NET­ICS — a health tech com­pa­ny who de­vel­oped the AI SOPHiA for health­care pro­fes­sion­als — wel­comed Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine vet Troy Cox to its board of di­rec­tors. Pri­or to serv­ing at the Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine, Cox held roles at Genen­tech, UCB Bio­Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Sanofi-Aven­tis and Scher­ing-Plough.

Vlad Coric (Biohaven)

In an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for in­vestors, FDA slaps down Bio­haven’s re­vised ver­sion of an old ALS drug

Biohaven is at risk of making a habit of disappointing its investors. 

Late Friday the biotech $BHVN reported that the FDA had rejected its application for riluzole, an old drug that they had made over into a sublingual formulation that dissolves under the tongue. According to Biohaven, the FDA had a problem with the active ingredient used in a bioequivalence study back in 2017, which they got from the Canadian drugmaker Apotex.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

H1 analy­sis: The high-stakes ta­ble in the biotech deals casi­no is pay­ing out some record-set­ting win­nings

For years the big trend among dealmakers at the major players has been centered on ratcheting down upfront payments in favor of bigger milestones. Better known as biobucks for some. But with the top 15 companies competing for the kind of “transformative” pacts that can whip up some excitement on Wall Street, with some big biotechs like Regeneron now weighing in as well, cash is king at the high stakes table.

We asked Chris Dokomajilar, the head of DealForma, to crunch the numbers for us, looking over the top 20 deals for the past decade and breaking it all down into the top alliances already created in 2019. Gilead has clearly tipped the scales in terms of the coin of the bio-realm, with its record-setting $5 billion upfront to tie up to Galapagos’ entire pipeline.

Dokomajilar notes:

We’re going to need a ‘three comma club’ for the deals with over $1 billion in total upfront cash and equity. The $100 million-plus club is getting crowded at 164 deals in the last decade with new deals being added towards the top of the chart. 2019 already has 14 deals with at least $100 million in upfront cash and equity for a total year-to-date of over $9 billion. That beats last year’s $8 billion and sets a record.

Add upfronts and equity payments and you get $11.5 billion for the year, just shy of last year’s record-setting $11.8 billion.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.