IQVIA vet takes the helm at Chi­na's Foun­tain Med­ical; Michael Nazak pro­mot­ed to CFO post at Aridis

Lin Zhen Foun­tain Med­ical

Af­ter bag­ging $62 mil­lion in a Se­ries D fi­nanc­ing round, Foun­tain Med­ical De­vel­op­ment has tapped IQVIA vet Ling Zhen as CEO and co-chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. Most re­cent­ly, Zhen served as a part­ner at Drap­er Drag­on Ven­ture Group. Dur­ing his time at IQVIA (for­mer­ly Quin­tiles), Zhen served as a glob­al SVP and gen­er­al man­ag­er of Greater Chi­na. Pri­or to IQVIA, Zhen served at Eli Lil­ly, GSK and Ernst & Young in the US.

→ Mi­cro­cap Aridis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — who last Oc­to­ber snagged Take­da vet Paul Mendel­man to man the com­pa­ny as in­ter­im CMO af­ter a Phase II flophas pro­mot­ed Michael Nazak to CFO. Nazak is suc­ceed­ing Fred Kur­land, who is re­tir­ing. Nazak joined the com­pa­ny in No­vem­ber 2018 as VP, fi­nance. Pri­or to Aridis, Nazak was the SVP, fi­nance at Co­herus Bio­sciences. His pre­vi­ous stints in­clude serv­ing as se­nior di­rec­tor of fi­nance and ac­count­ing at In­teKrin Ther­a­peu­tics and as cor­po­rate con­troller at Re­liant Tech­nolo­gies.

DBV Tech­nolo­gies, who in Oc­to­ber an­nounced that the FDA had ac­cept­ed its lat­est BLA fil­ing for its peanut al­ler­gy patch, has named Ramzi Be­na­mar as CFO. Be­na­mar joins the com­pa­ny from Spark Ther­a­peu­tics, where he served as VP and head of fi­nan­cial plan­ning and analy­sis. Be­na­mar’s pri­or ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes roles at Mer­ck, John­son & John­son and Shire.

Nu­Va­sive — fo­cused on spine tech­nol­o­gy — has ap­point­ed Matthew Har­baugh as EVP and CFO, who will suc­ceed Ra­jesh Asar­pota. Most re­cent­ly, Har­baugh was pres­i­dent of Mallinck­rodt, where he al­so for­mer­ly served as the com­pa­ny’s CFO. His oth­er stints in­clude roles at Co­vi­di­en Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Mon­san­to Com­pa­ny.

→ Fol­low­ing a $24 mil­lion Se­ries B fi­nanc­ing round, health­care plat­form com­pa­ny Vim has tapped Mike Leonard as chief rev­enue of­fi­cer. Pri­or to his ap­point­ment at Vim, Leonard was the CCO at Cast­light Health. Be­fore that, Leonard was the EVP of sales and mar­ket­ing at Jiff (pur­chased by Cast­light in April 2017).

Re­bec­ca Fis­ch­er Belle­vue

En­zo Biochem has ap­point­ed Re­bec­ca Fis­ch­er to its board of di­rec­tors to suc­ceed re­tir­ing Gre­go­ry Bortz. Fis­ch­er is the CFO of Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal.

→ Texas-based can­cer drug de­vel­op­er Plus Ther­a­peu­tics wel­comed An van Es-Jo­hans­son, the chief med­ical of­fi­cer for Alze­Cure Phar­ma, an Alzheimer’s-fo­cused Swedish com­pa­ny to its board on Jan­u­ary 1.

Ti­tan Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — whose lead prod­uct Probuphine is used for long-term main­te­nance treat­ment of opi­oid de­pen­dence — has elect­ed the com­pa­ny’s EVP and CSO, Kate De­Var­ney, to its board of di­rec­tors.

Nick Galakatos, Blackstone global head of life sciences

Nick Galakatos and the Black­stone team now have a record $4.6B to in­vest in bio­phar­ma, with a big fo­cus on push­ing com­pa­nies over the top

Nick Galakatos and his team at Blackstone Life Sciences have seen their biggest opportunities swell up in mostly established players who don’t have all the money they need to accomplish everything on the to-do list. And right now, with the industry booming, that’s a long list with some hefty needs.

The Blackstone team has neatly tied up the largest private fund ever raised in life sciences for making big dreams come true in biopharma. Late Thursday, Blackstone put out word that they had closed their highly anticipated fund with the projected $4.6 billion all in.

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Bio­gen shares spike as ex­ecs com­plete a de­layed pitch for their con­tro­ver­sial Alzheimer's drug — the next move be­longs to the FDA

Biogen is stepping out onto the high wire today, reporting that the team working on the controversial Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab has now completed their submission to the FDA. And they want the agency to bless it with a priority review that would cut the agency’s decision-making time to a mere 6 months.

The news drove a 10% spike in Biogen’s stock $BIIB ahead of the bell.

Part of that spike can be attributed to a relief rally. Biogen execs rattled backers and a host of analysts earlier in the year when they unexpectedly delayed their filing to the third quarter. That delay provoked all manner of speculation after CEO Michel Vounatsos and R&D chief Al Sandrock failed to persuade influential observers that the pandemic and other factors had slowed the timeline for filing. Actually making the pitch at least satisfies skeptics that the FDA was not likely pushing back as Biogen was pushing in. From the start, Biogen execs claimed that they were doing everything in cooperation with the FDA, saying that regulators had signaled their interest in reviewing the submission.

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Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer speaks at a meeting with President Donald Trump, members of the Coronavirus Task Force, and pharmaceutical executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

OWS shifts spot­light to drugs to fight Covid-19, hand­ing Re­gen­eron $450M to be­gin large scale man­u­fac­tur­ing in the US

The US government is on a spending spree. And after committing billions to vaccines defense operations are now doling out more of the big bucks through Operation Warp Speed to back a rapid flip of a drug into the market to stop Covid-19 from ravaging patients — possibly inside of 2 months.

The beneficiary this morning is Regeneron, the big biotech engaged in a frenzied race to develop an antibody cocktail called REGN-COV2 that just started a late-stage program to prove its worth in fighting the virus. BARDA and the Department of Defense are awarding Regeneron a $450 million contract to cover bulk delivery of the cocktail starting as early as late summer, with money added for fill/finish and storage activities.

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Gilead boasts of pos­i­tive remde­sivir da­ta on mor­tal­i­ty — but their analy­sis pro­vokes the skep­tics

Gilead is surging again off data that suggest its antiviral remdesivir might improve survival.

The new data come from an analysis Gilead conducted comparing the death rate and recovery time of patients in one of its remdesivir trials to a group of 800 patients “with similar baseline characteristics and disease severity” who received only standard-of-care around the same time. The result, they said, suggested that patients who received remdesivir had a 62% better chance at surviving than those who did not.

Hal Barron, GSK

Win or lose on the mar­ket­ing OK, the FDA just gunned down GSK’s bright hopes for their BC­MA ther­a­py

The FDA’s ODAC — the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee — has a well-known bias in favor of adding new cancer drugs to the market, even if efficacy is at best marginal and serious safety issues demand careful management.

Doctors want as many arrows in their quiver as they can get. And when patients are dying after failing multiple drugs, why not give it a go one more time?

GlaxoSmithKline, though, is about to test out how their new BCMA antibody drug conjugate belantamab mafodotin can do after being mauled in an in-house FDA review, ahead of the Tuesday expert panel discussion. Even if the agency goes ahead with an expected green light, this drug will likely be constrained to a small niche — icing any plans they may have for making waves in oncology anytime soon.

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Bob Goeltz bolts Uni­ty Biotech­nol­o­gy to be­come CFO at Ar­cus Bio­sciences; John John­son tapped for his lat­est CEO gig

→ A press release earlier in the week noted that Bob Goeltz left his CFO post at Unity Biotechnology “to pursue a new opportunity.” We now know what that opportunity is, joining Terry Rosen’s crew at Arcus Biosciences as the new CFO. A former executive director of corporate development at Amgen, Goeltz was the CFO for CytomX Therapeutics before making the move to anti-aging startup Unity in 2017.

Covid-19 roundup: BioN­Tech go­ing head-to-head with Mod­er­na as PhI­II mR­NA launch looms; Tri­al on Shin­zo Abe’s once-fa­vorite an­tivi­ral is in­con­clu­sive

It’s a race to the Phase III finish line now for the 2 leading mRNA vaccines in the pipeline for Covid-19.

BioNTech chief Ugur Sahin told the Wall Street Journal that his company will start Phase III testing of their vaccine later this month, setting them up to lateral the data to regulators before the end of this year.

That puts them essentially on the exact same schedule as Moderna is dedicated to. The Massachusetts rival to BioNTech also expects to launch Phase III this month. Lots of rumors have circulated about delays and conflict among the scientists advancing the Moderna jab, but the biotech has consistently stuck to its plan to start a late-stage pivotal this month.

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Andrew Kruegel, Kures president and co-founder (Columbia Tech Ventures via Vimeo)

Af­ter psilo­cy­bin and ke­t­a­mine, a new biotech comes along de­vel­op­ing a drug Scott Got­tlieb fought

Andrew Kruegel was six years into his chemistry work at Columbia University, when, one day in August 2016, he learned he might have only 30 days before the government made him destroy his research.

Kruegel had been studying kratom, a leaf long used in Southeast Asia as a stimulant or for pain. It had opioid-like properties, he found, but seemed to offer pain relief without the addictive potential or respiratory side effects of traditional opioids — a riddle that might help illuminate how human opioid receptors work.

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The home run count: The $100M+ mega-round boom in biotech in­spired a $7.3B feed­ing fren­zy — so far this year

Over the last 6 months there’s been a blizzard of money piling up drifts of the green stuff through the biotech landscape. And the forecast calls for more cash windfalls ahead.

Even as a global pandemic has killed more than half a million people, blighted economies and divided nations over the proper response, it’s also helped ignite an unprecedented burst of big-time investing. And not just in Covid-19 deals, as we’ve looked at before.

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