Jessica Richman, Zach Apte. uBiome

In an­oth­er shake­up, uBio­me brings in out­side help to re­vamp a mi­cro­bio­me test­ing op­er­a­tion un­der FBI scruti­ny

Soon af­ter word got out about an FBI probe in­to uBio­me’s billing prac­tices, the mi­cro­bio­me test­ing start­up put its gen­er­al coun­sel in charge as the co-founders stepped aside from their roles as co-CEOs. John Rakow, the in­ter­im CEO, vowed to “co­op­er­ate ful­ly with gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties and pri­vate pay­ors to sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly re­solve the ques­tions that have been raised.”

John Rakow uBio­me

Turns out that was not good enough.

The San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny is now in­stalling new lead­er­ship from the con­sult­ing firm Goldin As­so­ci­ates to re­place Rakow two months af­ter he was first ap­point­ed, the Wall Street Jour­nal re­port­ed. The new, in­ter­im man­age­ment team con­sists of CEO Cur­tis Solsvig, CFO Robin Chu and COO Karthik Bhavara­ju. The turn­around ex­perts from Goldin have been work­ing with uBio­me for the last month.

In ad­di­tion, Jes­si­ca Rich­man and Zach Apte — the co-founders — are turn­ing their sus­pen­sion to a full-on res­ig­na­tion from the com­pa­ny’s board, ac­cord­ing to an in­vestor let­ter re­viewed by the Jour­nal.

Rich­man and Apte launched uBio­me 6 years ago af­ter rais­ing $350,000 from a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign. It has since scored VC back­ing to­tal­ing $83 mil­lion from Y Com­bi­na­tor, An­dreessen Horowitz, 8VC and oth­ers as well as aca­d­e­m­ic part­ner­ships with the likes of UCSF and Har­vard. The biotech al­so boost­ed its pro­file by re­cruit­ing star di­rec­tors to its board, in­clud­ing ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jiminez, whom it said would con­tribute ex­per­tise for a piv­ot to the drug busi­ness.

Cur­tis Solsvig Goldin

The ex­ecs fol­lowed up their ini­tial con­sumer test, Ex­plor­er, with more tar­get­ed tests de­signed to eval­u­ate gut health, vagi­nal health and the mi­crobes that may be im­pli­cat­ed in pa­tients’ flu symp­toms. SmartGut and Smart­Jane were pulled from the mar­ket in May af­ter the FBI searched uBio­me’s of­fice — though the com­pa­ny didn’t spec­i­fy the rea­son.

In­sid­ers lat­er told the Jour­nal that in­sur­ers had large­ly stopped pay­ing for the tests as uBio­me was sus­pect­ed of us­ing im­prop­er billing codes and charg­ing for un­nec­es­sary tests.

The de­ci­sion to put new lead­ers in place re­port­ed­ly came from a spe­cial board com­mit­tee that was formed in the wake of the FDA raid to con­duct an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Here comes the oral GLP-1 drug for di­a­betes — but No­vo Nordisk is­n't dis­clos­ing Ry­bel­sus price just yet

Novo Nordisk’s priority review voucher on oral semaglutide has paid off. The FDA approval for the GLP-1 drug hit late Friday morning, around six months after the NDA filing.

Rybelsus will be the first GLP-1 pill to enter the type 2 diabetes market — a compelling offering that analysts have pegged as a blockbuster drug with sales estimates ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion.

Ozempic, the once-weekly injectable formulation of semaglutide, brought in around $552 million (DKK 3.75 billion) in the first half of 2019.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 60,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 60,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Oxitec biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil in 2016 [credit: Getty Images]

In­trex­on unit push­es back against claims its GM mos­qui­toes are mak­ing dis­ease-friend­ly mu­tants

When the hysteria of Zika transmission sprang into the American zeitgeist a few years ago, UK-based Oxitec was already field-testing its male Aedes aegypti mosquito, crafted to possess a gene engineered to obliterate its progeny long before maturation.

But when a group of independent scientists evaluated the impact of the release of these genetically-modified mosquitoes in a trial conducted by Oxitec in Brazil between 2013 and 2015, they found that some of the offspring had managed to survive — prompting them to speculate what impact the survivors could have on disease transmission and/or insecticide resistance.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 60,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

[via AP Images]

Pur­due threat­ens to walk away from set­tle­ment, asks to pay em­ploy­ees mil­lions in bonus­es

There are two updates on the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over its role in fueling the opioid epidemic, as the Sackler family threatens to walk away from their pledge to pay out $3 billion if a bankruptcy judge does not stop outstanding state lawsuits against them. At the same time, the company has asked permission to pay millions in bonuses to select employees.

Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week as part of its signed resolution to over 2,000 lawsuits. The deal would see the Sackler family that owns Purdue give $3 billion from their personal wealth and the company turned into a trust committed to curbing and reversing overdoses.

Aerial view of Genentech's campus in South San Francisco [Credit: Getty]

Genen­tech sub­mits a big plan to ex­pand its South San Fran­cis­co foot­print

The sign is still there, a quaint reminder of whitewashed concrete not 5 miles from Genentech’s sprawling, chrome-and-glass campus: South Francisco The Industrial City. 

The city keeps the old sign, first erected in 1923, as a tourist site and a kind of civic memento to the days it packed meat, milled lumber and burned enough steel to earn the moniker “Smokestack of the Peninsula.” But the real indication of where you are and how much has changed both in San Francisco and in the global economy since a couple researchers and investors rented out an empty warehouse 40 years ago comes in a far smaller blue sign, resembling a Rotary Club post, off the highway: South San Francisco, The Birthplace of Biotech.

While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 60,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.