Is Mar­tin Shkre­li blog­ging from prison?

Say what you will about Mar­tin Shkre­li, but the guy ap­pears to have a re­lent­less re­silience to be heard. A few months in­to his prison sen­tence at Fort Dix, Shkre­li might be blog­ging from his cell.

That’s ac­cord­ing to ac­tiv­i­ty on this site — mar­tin­shkre­ — which saw its first en­try post­ed yes­ter­day. Al­though it’s still un­clear if the blog is gen­uine, the first post was writ­ten in Shkre­li’s now-fa­mil­iar wry voice and style. He shares his per­son­al con­tact in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing an email ad­dress you can send ques­tions to. His peo­ple will print the emails and “snail mail” them to Shkre­li at the cor­rec­tion­al fa­cil­i­ty, the post says.

I’ve reached out to Fort Dix, the prison where Shkre­li is cur­rent­ly serv­ing his 7-year sen­tence for se­cu­ri­ties fraud, to see if Shkre­li can ac­tu­al­ly post blogs while in­car­cer­at­ed. What ac­cess does he have to the in­ter­net? In what cir­cum­stances would the fa­cil­i­ty in­ter­fere with his blog­ging? The in­sti­tu­tion took my call, but said it need­ed time to re­spond. I’m still wait­ing to hear back.

If the blog is in­deed gen­uine, it seems Shkre­li is de­ter­mined to share his thoughts on in­dus­try mat­ters. The first sec­tion of his first en­try is com­men­tary on bio stocks and in­dus­try news, with mus­ings like the one be­low:

No­var­tis’ much-telegraphed sale of Al­con and the con­tin­ued im­plo­sion of GE re­minds us con­glom­er­ates are more out of fash­ion than prob­a­bly at any point in the his­to­ry of busi­ness. This flies in the face of me­chan­i­cal log­ic, but prac­ti­cal­ly makes sense. Find­ing good man­agers is hard (I’ve maybe found a very small hand­ful of de­cent man­agers out of close to 1000 I’ve em­ployed over the years) and con­glom­er­ates can on­ly work if you have an en­gaged CEO (about 5% of CEOs) and en­gaged man­agers (less than 5%? less than 10%?), which prob­a­bil­i­ty tells you is far low­er.

Then he out­lines sci­en­tif­ic pa­pers he’s read from prison and adds notes on what he thinks about each. Last, he ded­i­cates a few para­graphs to his per­son­al life.

“I have around 38 months to go as­sum­ing no suc­cess on an ap­peal,” he wrote. “I spend most of my team [sic] read­ing. A news­pa­per mis­re­port­ed that I’m ‘buff’. This is not the case.”

He al­so writes that news out­lets have mis­re­port­ed facts about his as­sets.

“Oh, the Wu-Tang al­bum is still in my pos­ses­sion,” he wrote. “As are all of my as­sets.”

News writ­ers re­port­ed back in March that US Dis­trict Judge Kiyo Mat­sumo­to or­dered Shkre­li to for­feit $7.36 mil­lion. But that or­der got stayed — as we re­port­ed — pend­ing Shkre­li’s ap­peal, which could take a year or so to wrap up.

The news of Shkre­li’s blog was first not­ed by Christie Smythe, a le­gal jour­nal­ist who’s writ­ing a book about Shkre­li. Fol­low the con­ver­sa­tion via this tweet, and we’ll up­date this sto­ry once Fort Dix gets back to us:

Im­age: Mar­tin Shkre­li. SHUT­TER­STOCK

Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

Daniel O'Day [via AP Images]

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead un­leash­es a $5B late-stage cash al­liance with Gala­pa­gos — lay­ing out O'­Day's R&D strat­e­gy

Daniel O’Day is executing his first major development deal since taking over as CEO of Gilead $GILD. And he’s going in deep to ally himself with a longstanding partner.

O’Day announced today that he is spending $5 billion in cash to add new late-stage drugs to Gilead’s pipeline, picking up rights to Galapagos’ $GLPG Phase III IPF drug GLPG1690 alongside adoption of the biotech’s Phase IIb drug GLPG1972 for osteoarthritis. And Gilead is also putting billions more on the table for milestones, gaining options for everything else in Galapagos’ pipeline, with a shot at all rights outside of Europe.

Altogether, Gilead is gaining rights to 6 clinical-stage assets, 20 preclinical programs and everything else being hatched in translation.

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Ab­b­Vie beefs up the on­col­o­gy pipeline, bag­ging an up­start STING play­er with its own unique ap­proach

AbbVie isn’t letting its $63 billion buyout of Allergan stop its M&A/deals team from continuing their work.

Monday morning we learned that the pharma giant is snapping up tiny Mavupharma out of Seattle, a Frazier-backed startup that has its own unique take on STING — which is on the threshold of their first clinical trial.

Stimulating STING has been a big disappointment in biopharma, with setbacks at Merck and Aduro. But Mavupharma was focused on its own target: ENPP1, which they say acted as a “negative regulator” of STING. Take the foot off the brake, they theorized, and you would have a new approach to I/O that could have a wide variety of implications in cancers.

Billing it­self as the first AI biotech to launch hu­man tri­als, Re­cur­sion adds $121M C round

Billing itself as the first AI biotech with programs in the clinic, Salt Lake City-based Recursion now has a $121 million bankroll to start gathering human data to see if it’s on the right track. 

“We’re trying to build this discovery engine,” Recursion CEO Chris Gibson tells me ahead of the C round news. “We now have the first two programs in the clinic.” And that, he adds, qualifies as a first for any AI establishment “that actually have something in the clinic.”

Hal Barron [File photo]

Hal Bar­ron's team at GSK scores a win with pos­i­tive Ze­ju­la PhI­II front­line study — now comes the hard part

Score one for Hal Barron and the new R&D team steering GlaxoSmithKline’s pipeline.

The pharma giant reported this morning that its recently acquired PARP, Zejula (niraparib), hit the primary endpoint on progression-free survival in a frontline maintenance setting for women suffering ovarian cancer — following chemo and regardless of their BRCA status.

GSK bet $5 billion on the Tesaro buyout primarily to get this drug, drawing the shaking heads of biopharma. Why pay a big premium for a drug like this when AstraZeneca was going from strength to strength with Lynparza, ran the argument, having won a hugely important accelerated approval to jump out ahead — way ahead — of the rest of the PARP players? Lynparza — now co-owned by a powerhouse cancer team at Merck — won the first approval in frontline maintenance in ovarian cancer.

FDA bats back As­traZeneca's SGLT di­a­betes drug for Type 1 di­a­betes — block­ing a class on safe­ty fears

The FDA has just fired its latest salvo at the SGLT class of diabetes drugs, blowing up some commercial opportunity at AstraZeneca as part of the collateral damage.

The pharma giant reported early Monday that the FDA has rejected its blockbuster drug Farxiga for Type 1 diabetes that can’t be controlled by insulin. And while the pharma giant maintained its usual grim silence in the face of a setback, this one should be easy to interpret.

Jonathan Symonds [via HSBC]

GSK to tap Jonathan Symonds as chair­man, lever­ag­ing Big Phar­ma ex­pe­ri­ence for con­sumer biz deal

Six months into its search for a new board chairman, GlaxoSmithKline has apparently found the perfect candidate in a seasoned executive groomed at AstraZeneca and Novartis. Jonathan Symonds is in the final stages of being appointed, Bloomberg reports.

In January Sir Philip Hampton announced his intention to step down and make way for a new leader to oversee the consumer health joint venture GSK is setting up with Pfizer. The deal — announced a month prior — would spin out the unit formerly headed by GSK CEO Emma Walmsley and merge it with the equivalent division at Pfizer to create a new entity to be listed separately.

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen, No­var­tis scrap Alzheimer's stud­ies — is BACE fi­nal­ly dead or will Bio­gen and Ei­sai car­ry on?

The BACE theory of controlling Alzheimer’s died with failed pivotal projects at Merck, Eli Lilly and their partners at AstraZeneca. Now Amgen and Novartis have come along to bulldoze it under a mound of safety threats — leaving only Biogen and Eisai to carry on with a less than zero chance of success — with the notable addition that they may actually be doing harm to patients.

After the market closed Thursday, Amgen and Novartis announced that they were dumping two pivotal programs underway with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute on their BACE drug CNP520 (umibecestat) after an independent review of the data indicated that patients’ cognitive abilities were actually worsening at a faster pace than the placebo arm.

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Christi Shaw at JP Morgan 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Fresh out of Eli Lil­ly, Christi Shaw sur­faces as Daniel O'­Day's new CEO at CAR-T pi­o­neer Kite

Well, that didn’t take long. 

We found out Thursday evening that Christi Shaw has given up her top post as the head of the Bio-Medicines group at Eli Lilly for the helm at CAR-T pioneer Kite. New Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day, a Roche veteran, had made finding a Kite CEO a top priority on his arrival at Gilead. And he went right for a headliner.

O’Day was clearly excited about the coup.

“We conducted an extensive search for a new leader at Kite and we believe that Christi’s unique set of skills will allow us to continue to build on our leadership position in cell therapy,” he said in a prepared statement. “Christi’s vast experience across complex therapeutic areas, and particularly in oncology, will serve Kite very well. She is clearly a leader who will bring teams and individuals together and I am confident she will build upon the entrepreneurial spirit at Kite as we seek to help more people with cancer around the world.”