Look­ing for an I/O edge, Bris­tol-My­ers fronts $105M to part­ner with Halozyme as Roche ex­pands pact

Af­ter rack­ing up H1 sales of $2.3 bil­lion for its PD-1 star Op­di­vo, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb is now fronting $105 mil­lion — with a trove of $1.8 bil­lion-plus in mile­stones — to see whether its huge­ly im­por­tant im­muno-on­col­o­gy fran­chise can be helped by the de­liv­ery tech de­vel­oped at Halozyme.

That’s not all for Halozyme. Right af­ter the Bris­tol-My­ers $BMY deal popped Thurs­day morn­ing, Roche {RHH­BY} un­veiled its own plan to use the de­liv­ery tech for an­oth­er tar­get of its own — ex­pand­ing on their col­lab­o­ra­tion — which it will keep un­der wraps. That adds a $30 mil­lion up-front pay­ment with an­oth­er $160 mil­lion in mile­stones, bring­ing the pack­age to­day to $2 bil­lion in the up fronts and goal cash for Halozyme $HA­LO.

Halozyme shares surged 18% as the deals lined up this morn­ing.

The San Diego-based biotech will lend its hyaluronidase en­zyme (rHuPH20) — which tem­porar­i­ly de­grades hyaluro­nan — to see if Bris­tol’s drugs can be de­liv­ered with a sub­cu­ta­neous jab in­stead of by IV. That would be a key pref­er­ence for doc­tors and pa­tients, and in the in­tense­ly com­pet­i­tive I/O field — where Bris­tol-My­ers has stum­bled — any com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage is be­ing hot­ly pur­sued.

He­len Tor­ley, Halozyme

This new tech from Halozyme has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate “flex­i­ble and con­ve­nient treat­ment de­liv­ery op­tions,” notes Bris­tol-My­ers com­mer­cial chief Mur­do Gor­don.

PD-1 is at the top of the list of 11 tar­gets in the deal, of course, with “mul­ti­ple” ad­di­tion­al pro­grams in the deal. And the pact in­cludes plen­ty of op­tions for more in the first 5 years, with each tar­get worth a po­ten­tial $160 mil­lion in mile­stones. And there’s more mon­ey on the ta­ble for com­bo ther­a­pies — the hot fo­cus now that the pi­o­neers are out front and claim­ing mar­ket share.

There’s more to these deals than a com­pet­i­tive edge over ri­vals, Halozyme CEO He­len Tor­ley told me to­day, though that is clear­ly in play with the Bris­tol-My­ers deal. A sub­cu­ta­neous in­jec­tion is faster, eas­i­er and al­so less ex­pen­sive for pay­ers, who won’t over­look the mon­ey that can be de­duct­ed from pro­vid­ing these ex­pen­sive ther­a­pies.

These deals mark a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for Halozyme, she adds, as a re­cent FDA ap­proval for rit­ux­imab and hyaluronidase hu­man is an easy in­jec­tion has helped in­spire a line­up of po­ten­tial part­ners to knock on their doors to dis­cuss new pacts.

The deal al­so marks a big plus for  Tor­ley, who’s had to deal with stum­bles of her own. The biotech’s de­liv­ery tech in­spired its lead drug PEGPH20, which failed a fu­til­i­ty test last spring af­ter it was com­bined with Folfiri­nox and test­ed against Folfiri­nox alone in metasta­t­ic pan­cre­at­ic can­cer. Shares of Halozyme dropped 10% last fall af­ter the com­pa­ny an­nounced that Ab­b­Vie opt­ed to drop one of their part­nered pro­grams us­ing their plat­form tech with a tu­mor necro­sis fac­tor al­pha tar­get. Their Phase I study fell short of its tar­gets, forc­ing the end of the pro­gram. But they’ll con­tin­ue to work to­geth­er un­der the terms of their $153 mil­lion 2015 pact.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.