Mark Foley, Revance

HR vi­o­la­tion push­es Re­vance co-founder out, vault­ing for­mer Zel­tiq chief to the helm

Dan Browne Re­vance

Months af­ter Re­vance amend­ed the terms of its Botox biosim­i­lar col­lab­o­ra­tion with My­lan, the Newark, Cal­i­for­nia-based drug de­vel­op­er dis­closed its co-founder Dan Browne is step­ping down, in what ap­pears to be mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances.

The com­pa­ny — which is al­so de­vel­op­ing a ri­val to Al­ler­gan’s for­mi­da­ble Botox fran­chise — on Mon­day said Browne is de­part­ing “due to mis­judg­ment in han­dling an em­ploy­ee mat­ter,” that has al­so cul­mi­nat­ed in his res­ig­na­tion from Re­vance’s board of di­rec­tors.

Board mem­ber Mark Fo­ley, for­mer chief of Zel­tiq Ther­a­peu­tics, will take over the reins as Re­vance CEO and pres­i­dent, the com­pa­ny said.

“While the change is sud­den and un­ex­pect­ed, Re­vance is still in good hands. Mark Fo­ley, who’s re­plac­ing Dan Browne, has a long track record in aes­thet­ics the for­mer Chair­man and CEO of Zel­tiq Aes­thet­ics, which was ac­quired by Al­ler­gan for ~$2.5B in 2017,” Need­ham an­a­lyst Serge Be­langer told End­points News.

End­points has con­tact­ed Re­vance for com­ment.

Browne has been in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing Re­vance — he helped nab its first ven­ture cap­i­tal in­jec­tion in 2006 and steered the com­pa­ny to its pub­lic de­but in 2014.

“The de­par­ture of Dan Browne was due pure­ly to an HR vi­o­la­tion and was in no re­la­tion to the DAXI prod­uct or BLA tim­ing, which is still on track for ‘the Fall.’ Al­though it is dis­ap­point­ing to learn of Dan’s de­par­ture giv­en all of his ef­forts over his 17 years with the com­pa­ny, it does not ap­pear to be at all re­lat­ed to the core as­set,” Cowen’s Ken Cac­cia­tore wrote in a note.

The com­pa­ny’s lead prod­uct, Dax­i­bot­u­linum­tox­i­nA for In­jec­tion (DAXI), is po­si­tioned as a di­rect com­peti­tor to Al­ler­gan’s Botox fran­chise — a prod­uct that is ap­proved for 13 in­di­ca­tions and gen­er­at­ed close to $3.6 bil­lion last year, de­spite the emer­gence of ri­vals: Ipsen’s Dys­port and Merz Phar­ma’s Xeomin. An­oth­er ri­val, Evo­lus scored FDA ap­proval for its prod­uct, Jeu­veau, in Feb­ru­ary this year.

Re­vance ex­pects DAXI to win US ap­proval in 2020 as a treat­ment for frown lines — the prod­uct is al­so un­der de­vel­op­ment for use in fore­head lines and crow’s feet, as well as in three ther­a­peu­tic in­di­ca­tions: cer­vi­cal dys­to­nia, adult up­per limb spas­tic­i­ty, and plan­tar fasci­itis.

Botox and its com­peti­tors typ­i­cal­ly work for 3-4 months, but DAXI has a po­ten­tial 6-month du­ra­tion claim — which could be dis­rup­tive cur­rent in­jectable bot­u­linum tox­in treat­ment par­a­digm, Cac­cia­tore said. He ex­pects DAXI could even­tu­al­ly rep­re­sent a $1 bil­lion+ prod­uct in the Unit­ed States, and even­tu­al­ly a po­ten­tial equal size in the ex-US mar­kets.

Re­vance $RVNC al­so has a col­lab­o­ra­tion with My­lan $MYL to de­vel­op a Botox biosim­i­lar, al­though Al­ler­gan $AGN — which is in the process of be­ing ac­quired by Ab­b­Vie $AB­BV in a $63 bil­lion mega-deal — has a con­tin­gency plan for its prize Botox fran­chise. Brent Saun­der’s com­pa­ny has in-li­censed a Botox fol­low-on called MT10109L — which is cur­rent­ly in late-stage de­vel­op­ment.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

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Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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