Jim Greenwood opens new policy shop, with an eye on drug price controls; Moderna, CRISPR, Mustang receive tax breaks in Massachusetts
Capitol Hill heavyweight Jim Greenwood is taking his decades of experience in the intertwining worlds of biopharma and Congress to the law firm DLA Piper, where he’s opening up a new policy and regulatory practice alongside former Pfizer lawyer Geoffrey Levitt.
As Congress wrangles over how to bring down drug prices, the former BIO CEO told Endpoints News in an interview that his top three priorities will be, “Price controls, price controls and price controls.”
“It’s not a question of if, but a question of when,” Greenwood said on attempts by Congress to get a drug pricing bill across the finish line. He predicted that the House is going to move forward with a bill like HR 3, which would allow CMS to negotiate drug prices and which the biopharma industry fiercely opposes. But Greenwood said he hopes more reasonable Democrats understand that “they’re shooting with real bullets now” and HR 3 is not just a campaign move (as it was when HR 3 first passed the House in December 2019).
Greenwood noted that he spoke to President Biden when he was VP, and he thinks that the president, as the architect of the Cancer Moonshot, understands how the pricing system works, and that capital is very sensitive to dramatic changes. A bill like HR 3 could be “ruinous to our ability to fight cancer,” Greenwood said. But he noted that industry will be willing to negotiate somewhat, as they did in pushing for a cap on out-of-pocket expenses as part of a former Senate pricing bill from Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). — Zachary Brennan
Massachusetts tax breaks
Moderna has doubled its workforce in Massachusetts over the past year, including an additional 650 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Norwood, MA, and thanks to a tax break from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, it will hire an additional 155 employees, the company announced Friday.
The incentive will require Moderna to retain the employees through 2025, and the company will take home $2.35 million, the largest break of any of the companies. The company has been in Massachusetts since its founding in September 2010, and opened its Norwood site in 2018.
In a statement, CEO Stéphane Bancel said:
Massachusetts continues to be the global leader in the biotech industry and having our manufacturing facility in Norwood has enabled close collaboration with our research and development teams in Cambridge. It’s also allowed us to work with state and local partners and to leverage the incredible innovation and diverse talent from the Massachusetts life sciences and technology sectors. We are proud to create new biotech and manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts as we work to develop new mRNA medicines.
The MLSC offers companies a tax incentive to create long-term jobs in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in Massachusetts. Mustang Bio was also among the 28 companies awarded the tax break of $300,000 to add 20 new jobs at its Worcester, MA site. That company has also been at its current site since 2018, and currently employs 70 people.
The tax break comes just in time for Moderna to staff its expansion to the Norwood site. Renovations will more than double the amount of square footage at the site, and support a 50% increase in Covid-19 vaccine and booster manufacturing. That comes as part of a rapid ramp-up in production of its vaccines, as the company doubled manufacturing at Lonza’s Visp, Switzerland site and Rovi’s Spain facility. In April, Sanofi signed on with Moderna to produce its vaccine and in late May, it landed a deal with Samsung Biologics for fill-finish duties at its Incheon, South Korea plant.
Other big recipients include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which will get $1.95 million for 130 new jobs at its Norton and Cambridge locations, CRISPR which will get more than $1 million for 59 new jobs in Framingham and Cytiva, which landed $1.95 million for 130 jobs in Westborough, Marlborough and Shrewsbury. — Josh Sullivan
Nuevocor raises $24 million to advance gene therapy
Singapore-based Nuevocor has raised $24 million in Series A Financing to move its gene therapy for cardiomyopathies a step closer to clinical trials, the company announced Friday.
The AAV-based therapy is for patients suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy due to mutations in the lamia A/C gene, which causes the left ventricle of the heart to stretch and thin, causing it trouble pumping blood, as well as other untreatable cardiomyopathies.
In a statement, CEO Yann Chong Tan said:
We are delighted to have this strong group of investors join us in developing gene therapy-based treatments that have the potential to restore cardiac function in diseased hearts. The current standard of care for dilated cardiomyopathy only serves to delay disease progression, and the only cure is to have a heart transplant. At Nuevocor, we hope to give patients a new lease of life through our technology.
— Josh Sullivan