GSK finds a buy­er will­ing to take its Paris R&D site off its hands — for a hefty fee

Af­ter shop­ping the François Hyafil Re­search Cen­tre near Paris for the past year, Glax­o­SmithK­line says it fi­nal­ly has a buy­er — and the deal will on­ly cost the phar­ma gi­ant about $40 mil­lion.

Philippe Genne of On­code­sign

GSK has pledged the cash to sub­si­dize the em­ploy­ment of 57 staffers at the re­search fa­cil­i­ty in Ville­bon-sur-Yvette over the next four years as part of its agree­ment to hand it all over to On­code­sign, which eval­u­ates new drug can­di­dates for its cus­tomers.

The group had been do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar for GSK, help­ing out with the com­pa­ny’s in­cu­ba­tion ef­forts on the dis­cov­ery side.

The de­ci­sion to jet­ti­son the fa­cil­i­ty has cor­po­rate roots that date all the way back to late 2014, when flag­ging Ad­vair sales and a slow ramp up on new drugs left an­a­lysts chaf­ing over GSK’s fi­nan­cials. Glaxo ripped in­to its re­search op­er­a­tions in Re­search Tri­an­gle Park in North Car­oli­na, quick­ly re­struc­tur­ing and trans­fer­ring hun­dreds of jobs to Parex­el (which quick­ly laid off many of their new staffers.)

GSK de­cid­ed to con­cen­trate its R&D ef­forts in Steve­nage and Up­per Prov­i­dence — leav­ing France out of the loop.

R&D trans­fers or cuts, though, don’t hap­pen with the same speed in France. As for­mer Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbach­er found out af­ter re­port­ed­ly diss­ing the pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of the com­pa­ny’s French re­search (there wasn’t any), French work rules and French gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials can make it quite a chore to re­or­ga­nize and lay off staffers in the coun­try.

That all played out well for On­code­sign, though, which is based in Di­jon and now has a new re­search cen­ter with the pay­roll cov­ered by GSK for sev­er­al years to come.

Philippe Genne, CEO and founder of On­code­sign, had this to say in a state­ment:

“This ac­qui­si­tion fur­ther ac­cel­er­ates the de­vel­op­ment of our strate­gic part­ner­ships, with IPSEN, BMS and UCB. In ad­di­tion, it will speed up our Nanocy­clix based drug dis­cov­ery in­ter­nal pro­grams through in­creased ca­pa­bil­i­ties and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in both on­col­o­gy and non-on­col­o­gy ar­eas. On­code­sign will thus strength­en its sci­en­tif­ic ex­per­tise in one of the most mod­ern re­search cen­tres in France in ad­di­tion to ac­quir­ing new and com­ple­men­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ex­pan­sion in non-on­col­o­gy space. To­geth­er with our pres­ence at the Open Cam­pus IPSEN site, the FHRC in­te­gra­tion will fur­ther es­tab­lish our pres­ence in the Paris Saclay sci­ence clus­ter and al­low us to ben­e­fit from the in­no­va­tion in this re­gion in com­ple­ment to that of our Di­jon site.”

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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