Lonnie Moulder (L) and Hua Mu

UP­DAT­ED: Lon­nie Moul­der woos a sea­soned de­vel­op­ment ex­pert from Hill­house­'s US/Chi­na play to helm his start­up

Back in 2010, when Tesaro was still a nascent biotech start­up, Lon­nie Moul­der re­mem­bers tak­ing due dili­gence trips to Chi­na to meet and un­der­stand com­pa­nies that could be po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion part­ners for their im­muno-on­col­o­gy pro­grams. One of them was Hutchi­son Chi­na MediTech, or Chi-Med, which was then led by CEO Saman­tha Du and CMO Hua Mu.

A lot has changed since then.

Tesaro end­ed up strik­ing a pact with Zai Lab — Du’s pi­o­neer­ing US/Chi­na biotech — be­fore get­ting snapped up by Glax­o­SmithK­line for $5 bil­lion. Chi-Med has just re­named it­self to HutchMed. Moul­der him­self set up his lat­est biotech start­up, dubbed Zenas, to have a go at a ver­sion 2.0 of the glob­al ap­proach he had ex­per­i­ment­ed with at Tesaro.

And Mu has just been re­cruit­ed as the pres­i­dent, CEO and act­ing chief med­ical of­fi­cer of Zenas, where he will be tasked with over­see­ing a de­vel­op­ment-stage pipeline in im­munol­o­gy. Joe Farmer, a for­mer col­league of Moul­der’s at Tesaro, is al­so com­ing on board as chief busi­ness and ad­min­si­tra­tive of­fi­cer.

“As a cross bor­der com­pa­ny, it’s im­por­tant to us that we have the right mix of ex­ec­u­tives that have deep ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge in both West­ern mar­kets, specif­i­cal­ly the US, and al­so in Chi­na,” Moul­der, who’s mov­ing from in­ter­im CEO to the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man seat, told End­points News.

With 20 peo­ple split be­tween Shang­hai and state­side, Zenas is fo­cused on mov­ing the mol­e­cules it’s li­censed in­to clin­i­cal tri­als through 2022. Some of them will be ex­e­cut­ed in Chi­na on­ly, while the rest will have glob­al plans an­chored by Chi­nese sites.

Just be­fore he jumped ship, Mu had helped Hill­house Cap­i­tal put to­geth­er an­oth­er cross bor­der com­pa­ny at Over­land Phar­ma, hail­ing a new kind of in-li­cens­ing mod­el that promised West­ern biotech en­tre­pre­neurs a way in­to Chi­na that was at once faster, more flex­i­ble and at a larg­er scale. The propo­si­tion was at­trac­tive enough that ADC Ther­a­peu­tics and Al­lo­gene both signed on for joint ven­ture deals.

“In the past, I think the fo­cus was more on the ex­e­cu­tion, op­er­a­tional fu­tures, right, be­cause those as­sets had al­ready mit­i­gat­ed risk be­fore,” Mu said at the time, giv­ing the ex­am­ple of Ze­ju­la, which Zai Lab li­censed from Tesaro when it was in Phase III. “The key was how to ex­e­cute the pro­gram, de­vel­op­ment and reg­is­tra­tion in Chi­na.”

These days, he added, “it’s more so­phis­ti­cat­ed as we talk about one of our fo­cus is on those tru­ly in­no­v­a­tive, for ex­am­ple first in class drugs ei­ther just POC or near POC, rel­a­tive­ly ear­li­er. In this way, the two sides of the col­lab­o­ra­tion, they have to work more close­ly. In oth­er words, it re­quires greater in­te­gra­tion of the glob­al ex­per­tise ex­pe­ri­ence and the lo­cal ex­per­tise.”

Be­fore tak­ing on the in­ter­im CEO/CMO role at Over­land, Mu has held a se­ries of top roles at Sim­cere, WuXi, Bio­gen and Genen­tech. His de­par­ture leaves co-founder Ed Zhang sole­ly in charge. Al­ready the COO and CBO, Zhang has al­so been ap­point­ed in­ter­im CEO while a new CMO should ar­rive in the com­ing weeks.

“We are grate­ful to Hua for all of his con­tri­bu­tions to help­ing get Over­land off the ground,” he wrote in an email to End­points. “His de­par­ture from Over­land was re­cent and un­der a mu­tu­al agree­ment. We wish him all the best with his new role at Zenas.”

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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; 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.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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Seagen interim CEO Roger Dansey and Daiichi Sankyo CEO Sunao Manabe

Paving the way for Mer­ck­'s buy­out, Seagen los­es ar­bi­tra­tion dis­pute with Dai­ichi over ADC tech

As Seagen awaits a final buyout offer from Merck that could be in the territory of $40 billion, Seagen revealed Friday afternoon that it lost an arbitration dispute with Daiichi Sankyo relating to the companies’ 2008 collaboration around the use of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology.

But that loss likely won’t matter much when it comes to Merck’s deal.

After breaking off its pact with Daiichi in mid-2015, the two companies battled over “linker” tech — a chemical bridge between an ADC’s antibody component and the cytotoxic payload — that Seagen claims Daiichi would improve upon and implement in its current generation of ADCs.

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Winselow Tucker, Eli Lilly's new Loxo unit chief commercial officer

Eli Lil­ly plucks a new com­mer­cial chief from Bris­tol My­ers in man­age­ment shuf­fle as HR chief re­tires

Eli Lilly has found a new chief commercial officer from among the ranks at Bristol Myers Squibb, as it says farewell to its longtime head of human resources Stephen Fry.

Fry announced on Thursday his plans to retire after more than 35 years with Lilly. He’ll vacate his seat as SVP of human resources and diversity at the end of the year, and current Loxo CCO Eric Dozier is slated to take his place. As a result, BMS’ Winselow Tucker is joining the team as Loxo CCO at the end of the month.

Simba Gill, Evelo Biosciences CEO

Sim­ba Gill heads back to Flag­ship af­ter sev­en-year run as Evelo CEO

Evelo Biosciences is on the hunt for a new CEO, with its founding chief Simba Gill switching to the chairman post to free up time for his new gig at Evelo’s incubator, Flagship Pioneering.

Gill will trade in his former Flagship title of venture partner with the higher-up role of executive partner, after originally joining in 2015. He’ll serve as CEO of Evelo until his successor is chosen, and at Flagship his priorities will be counseling and supporting the venture firm’s portfolio companies.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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