Iron­wood dodges a Den­ner board seat, but the ac­tivist in­vestor still has words of ad­vice

Iron­wood has suc­cess­ful­ly fend­ed off ac­tivist in­vestor Alex Den­ner from join­ing its board, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Thurs­day fol­low­ing a share­hold­er meet­ing. But Den­ner isn’t done giv­ing out tips.

Den­ner’s com­pa­ny Saris­sa Cap­i­tal took a stake in Iron­wood late last year, and soon af­ter an­nounced plans to snag a seat at the ta­ble. Iron­wood $IR­WD cam­paigned for share­hold­ers to re­ject Den­ner ear­li­er this month, al­though it first seemed open to the idea. Den­ner is prob­a­bly best known as Carl Ic­ahn’s pro­tégé, with a his­to­ry of spurring ac­qui­si­tions of the com­pa­nies in which he in­vests. He served as chair­man of Ari­ad be­fore Take­da ac­quired the can­cer com­pa­ny for $5.2 bil­lion last year. He was al­so a board mem­ber at Biover­a­tiv be­fore it was sold to Sanofi for $11.6 bil­lion ear­li­er this year. And he re­cent­ly took con­trol of The Med­i­cines Co $MD­CO amid con­sid­er­able buzz.

But af­ter three meet­ings with Den­ner to bet­ter un­der­stand his in­ten­tions for the com­pa­ny, Iron­wood’s ex­ec­u­tives de­cid­ed they weren’t thrilled with the prospect of him on their board. In a state­ment, the com­pa­ny said Saris­sa hadn’t made a strong enough case to ap­point Den­ner, con­sid­er­ing the boards ex­ist­ing di­ver­si­ty.

Share­hold­ers ap­par­ent­ly agree, as they vot­ed Thurs­day to ap­point three in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors who were up for re-elec­tion rather than bring in Den­ner.

“We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to en­gage with our share­hold­ers as we seek to de­liv­er on our 2018 goals and to ex­e­cute on our in­tent to sep­a­rate Iron­wood in­to two fo­cused and durable busi­ness­es each with sub­stan­tial op­por­tu­ni­ty for long-term growth and val­ue cre­ation,” Iron­wood said.

Un­der pres­sure from Den­ner to boost share­hold­er val­ue, Iron­wood said ear­li­er this month it would soon split in­to two com­pa­nies: spin­ning out a pipeline of ear­ly- and mid-stage drugs in­to a sep­a­rate, pub­licly trad­ed biotech com­pa­ny while keep­ing its mar­ket­ed prod­ucts and re­lat­ed de­vel­op­ment projects in house at a scaled down, and more prof­itable, moth­er com­pa­ny.

Den­ner thinks that’s a good idea and had more ad­vice to of­fer. Just af­ter Iron­wood an­nounced its board vote re­sults, Den­ner re­leased a state­ment of his own. He wants three things from Iron­wood:

  • The two post-spin­out com­pa­nies should be com­plete­ly sep­a­rate en­ti­ties with­out cross-own­er­ship.
  • Each com­pa­ny should have mod­ern, share­hold­er-friend­ly gov­er­nance with­out clas­si­fied boards, su­per­vot­ing stock, etc.
  • Cap­i­tal al­lo­ca­tion should be op­ti­mal. For ex­am­ple, adding sig­nif­i­cant debt to one com­pa­ny to cap­i­tal­ize the oth­er or an IPO of 20% of one of the com­pa­nies in or­der to cap­i­tal­ize the oth­er would de­stroy sig­nif­i­cant share­hold­er val­ue.

I reached out to Iron­wood to see what they thought of Den­ner’s ad­vice. No com­ment, they said.

Im­age: Alex Den­ner Get­ty

Australia’s Avance Clinical: no IND required and a 43.5% rebate on clinical spend for CGT biotechs

No IND Re­quired for Cell and Gene Ther­a­py Stud­ies with Aus­tralia’s Ac­cred­it­ed CRO Avance Clin­i­cal

Avance Clinical is the specialist Australian CRO, with CGT accreditation, for international biotechs that leverages Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend.

Learn more about Avance ClinicReady here.
Contact us about your next study.
Download our Frost & Sullivan APAC CRO Report here. 

The cell and gene therapies (CGT) sector offers unprecedented opportunities for patient disease management across virtually all therapeutic areas. However, finding the right accredited clinical teams to take a therapy through to the clinic and manage the regulatory process can be a major challenge for biotechs with a CGT product.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Omi­cron: Re­searchers scram­ble as new coro­n­avirus mu­ta­tion takes flight around the globe — Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech, Mod­er­na vow swift re­sponse

As Americans were waking up for their Black Friday rituals, they were greeted with the news that a new mutation of the Covid-19 virus has appeared and been sequenced — after it caught an international flight to Hong Kong. And two of the leading Covid-19 vaccine developers promised delivery of a new vaccine “within 100 days” if necessary while a third spelled out its 3-prong strategy hours later.

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Thanks­giv­ing edi­tion: Top 15 End­points sto­ries of 2021; Can you name that vac­cine?; Mer­ck­'s Covid an­tivi­ral dis­ap­points; FDA nom­i­nee's in­dus­try ties; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating it — although, if we are being honest, this week’s abbreviated edition is really for those who are not. Wherever you’re tuning in from, we appreciate your support, hope you find this recap helpful and we wish you a wonderful weekend.

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Troy Wilson, Kura CEO

UP­DAT­ED: FDA hits the red light on an ear­ly-stage AML study af­ter a pa­tient dies

The FDA has slapped a clinical hold on the early-stage program for one of Kura Oncology’s cancer drugs following a patient’s death in a clinical trial.

The biotech $KURA reported early Wednesday that the Phase Ib study of KO-539 for acute myeloid leukemia would be halted, suspending enrollment, while researchers and the FDA probed the death. Patients already on the drug can continue taking it.

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What were End­points read­ers tun­ing in­to this year? Here’s a look at our 15 most pop­u­lar re­ports of the year (so far)

At the beginning of this year, I laid out a basic objective for Endpoints News as we headed to our 5th anniversary. We’ve long been doing a fine job covering the breaking news in R&D — if I do say so myself — but we needed to expand our horizons on industry coverage, increase the staff and go much, much deeper when the stories demanded it.

In a phrase: broader and deeper.

It’s safe to say, based on our daily web traffic, that you all seemed to like this idea. We’ve doubled the staff — thanks to a growing group of paid subscribers — ramped up the daily report and now publish a regular slate of in-depth articles. And traffic — those clicks you always read about — have gone up in volume too. Monthly sessions are up 43%, to close to 1.5 million. Unique readers are up 63%, to 874,480 in October, after setting a record of close to a million the month before. Page views are running at 3 million-plus a month. And the overall number of subscribers has surged to 124,000.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Am­gen, Lil­ly, Bio­haven mi­graine brand re­call low, study says; No­var­tis looks to re­make drug launch mod­el

Forget the migraine marketing brand wars. When it comes to patients, many can’t even name one despite substantial advertising efforts, according to a new study from Phreesia that concludes CGRP migraine drugmakers still need to work on brand recognition.

Almost half (47%) of the patients Phreesia surveyed couldn’t name one preventative migraine brand. The best performer was Topamax, a small molecule anticonvulsant that’s been around since 2004, which 26% of migraine patients could recall. Among the new CGRP brand names recognized, Amgen’s Aimovig ranked highest with 8% recall, while Eli Lilly’s Emgality and Biohaven’s Nurtec tied at 7% and Teva’s Ajovy was remembered by 3% of patients.

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Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Glax­o­SmithK­line places a risky bet on Ar­row­head­'s RNA drug in the fail­ure-strewn NASH field

As activist investors champ at the bit for change at drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, the pharma giant has turned over many rocks to find an R&D success to present to its detractors. In NASH, a field strewn with failures, GSK hopes a new license deal can churn out a much-needed winner.

GSK will pay $120 million in upfront cash and $910 million in downstream milestones to develop and sell ARO-HSD, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals’ RNA interference drug targeting fatty liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the companies said Monday.

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Name that vac­cine: From Comir­naty to Spike­vax to Nu­vax­ovid, Covid-19 shot­s' brand names re­main lit­tle-known

Most people know if they’re “Team Pfizer” or “Team Moderna,” but few know if they got the Comirnaty or Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine. Those are the brand names of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, respectively, however they have yet to take hold with consumers, media or even medical professionals.

And there are others. Covid vaccine brand names also include AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, Novavax’s Nuvaxovid, and Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s Vidprevtyn. J&J’s Janssen-developed Covid vaccine is the lone major holdout and is still yet to be named, if ever. In EMA filings approving its conditional use, the brand name is listed simply as “Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen.”

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Joan Perelló, Sanifit CEO

Joan Perel­ló set out 17 years ago to de­vel­op a drug. And to­day he's be­ing re­ward­ed with a $424M biotech buy­out

Joan Perelló beat all the odds with his little Spanish biotech startup Sanifit.

Working on the far perimeter of the big US/European drug development scene, he took a drug born out of his PhD work and got enough seed cash to get started. That’s one near miracle. In the second near miracle he gathered a previously unheard of venture raise in Spain — helping build an industry ecosystem from scratch — to pursue a successful search for solid human data for his drug, SNF472. And while gathering a virtual team of developers from Europe and the US, the CEO/co-founder steered it into the late-stage arena.

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