Je­re­my Levin joins the biotech IPO rush, gain­ing $75M for Ovid’s R&D game plan

Je­re­my Levin, Ovid

Je­re­my Levin is once again run­ning a pub­lic com­pa­ny. His start­up Ovid Ther­a­peu­tics $OVID has suc­cess­ful­ly launched an IPO, rais­ing $75 mil­lion af­ter sell­ing 5 mil­lion shares at $15 each — the low end of the range.

The move came as Uro­gen saw its shares $URGN climb north af­ter rais­ing $58 mil­lion in an up­sized IPO. But the fi­nan­cial prize of the day went to Bio­haven $BHVN, which snagged $168 mil­lion af­ter sell­ing 9.9 mil­lion shares. Add it all up and you’re look­ing at the first sol­id ev­i­dence that the IPO win­dow is widen­ing, with more such plays in the off­ing as some pa­tient com­pa­nies that have been bid­ing their time start to jump in on the ac­tion.

The burst of biotech IPOs comes af­ter the big boom of 2014 and 2015 fiz­zled in­to more of a steady trick­le. Some an­a­lysts had pegged 2017 as a like­ly re­peat of 2016, ex­pect­ing a cou­ple of dozen IPOs for the year. Now we’ll get to see if the win­dow stays open, or turns stub­born again, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for these plays come to fruition.

Levin, the for­mer busi­ness de­vel­op­ment chief at Bris­tol-My­ers dur­ing its hey­day, com­plet­ed a brief stint as Te­va CEO be­fore the board pushed him out of the com­pa­ny and in­to the biotech start­up busi­ness.

Ovid’s two chief as­sets are OV101, now in ear­ly-stage test­ing for An­gel­man Syn­drome and Frag­ile X, and OV935, in Phase I for epilep­tic en­cephalopathies. Two oth­er pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams are still large­ly un­der wraps. OV101 came from Lund­beck in the spring of 2015 and the two com­pa­nies are now 50/50 part­ners on the de­vel­op­ment pro­gram. And Levin has made it clear that he’d like to do more cre­ative deals on oth­er ex­per­i­men­tal bio­phar­ma as­sets look­ing for a home — an in­creas­ing­ly com­mon fea­ture of the start­up world, of­fer­ing a short­cut in­to late-stage ef­forts.

Levin greet­ed the IPO with a cheer.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; 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.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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UP­DAT­ED: Three biotechs price hefty IPOs just be­fore the week­end, while a fourth and a SPAC seek spots on Wall Street

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

A handful of biotechs are hitting Wall Street just before the start of the weekend, with three companies — Caribou Biosciences, Sophia Genetics and Absci — all pricing big raises Wednesday and Thursday. Gamma delta T cell-focused IN8bio relaunched its IPO campaign months after postponing it last November, seeking a slightly lower raise. And another SPAC has filed for a public debut.

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Victor Perlroth, Kodiak Sciences CEO

Ko­di­ak turns down $125M pay­ment from Bak­er Bros. deal, slash­es roy­al­ty cap by 55%

Following a massive public raise last November, Kodiak Sciences has re-worked a royalty sale agreement with an old partner — and declined new funds in the process.

Kodiak is turning down a planned $125 million payment from Baker Bros. Advisors, according to an SEC filing, cutting short an agreement that saw the biotech hand over a 4.5% stream of royalty sales on its experimental anti-VEGF therapy KSI-301 for retinal vascular diseases. In conjunction with the move, Kodiak is shrinking the royalty cap from just over $1 billion to $450 million.

EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ex-Mer­ck chief Ken Fra­zier takes a lead­ing role in a $600M 'Health As­sur­ance' ven­ture fund

Ken Frazier has opened up a new chapter in his storied career.

The ex-Merck CEO is joining a high-minded venture group with plans to carve a unique role for itself at the well-traveled juncture of tech and life sciences. And the new job comes through an old college buddy.

Officially, Frazier now becomes chairman of General Catalyst’s health assurance initiative. Their $600 million fund was unveiled back in early April, planning to invest in companies that could push the “evolution from a ‘sick care’ system to a resilient, proactive Health Assurance system designed to help people stay well, bend the cost curve, and make quality care more affordable and more accessible to all.”

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