Low sales, high cost: Melin­ta slash­es HQ re­search staff as it strug­gles to grow an­tibi­otics rev­enue

Look to Melin­ta Ther­a­peu­tics for the lat­est sign of eco­nom­ic trou­ble in the an­tibi­otics field.

Ex­act­ly a year af­ter the Con­necti­cut drug­mak­er ex­e­cut­ed a $270 mil­lion pact to buy out The Med­i­cines Co’s in­fec­tious dis­ease group — one in a string of pipeline ex­pan­sion deals — the com­pa­ny is re­port­ed­ly clos­ing down its head­quar­ters and lay­ing off 22 out of 25 staff and spin­ning out re­search projects, the lo­cal New Haven Biz re­port­ed last week. The bulk of the cuts were in R&D.

John John­son

While Melin­ta con­firmed the lay­offs to the pa­per, it de­clined to ver­i­fy the clos­ing date of No­vem­ber 30 cit­ed by the news site’s sources (say­ing “no fi­nal plans to shut­ter the New Haven lo­ca­tion had been made”) or elab­o­rate on the job cuts hap­pen­ing at its North Car­oli­na, New Jer­sey and Illi­nois of­fices.

Over the past year, Melin­ta’s share price $ML­NT has plunged 85%.

The com­pa­ny has not re­turned our re­quest for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

“In the face of an ex­treme­ly chal­leng­ing time for the an­tibi­otics in­dus­try, Melin­ta has made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to sig­nif­i­cant­ly re­duce our in­vest­ment in dis­cov­ery re­search and are cur­rent­ly look­ing for strate­gic part­ners to take on these ac­tiv­i­ties, lo­cat­ed at our New Haven fa­cil­i­ty,” an emailed state­ment to New Haven Biz read.

Pe­ter Mil­li­gan

Melin­ta hint­ed at the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion in its Q3 call, in which in­ter­im CEO John John­son plain­ly ad­mit­ted to low­er-than-ex­pect­ed sales and high-than-ex­pect­ed costs. With the help of new­ly hired CFO Pe­ter Mil­li­gan, John­son is hop­ing to shed $50 mil­lion in op­er­at­ing ex­pens­es next year by look­ing to ex­ter­nal sources for in­no­va­tion and “re­fo­cus­ing the com­pa­ny on prod­uct launch­es.”

It’s yet an­oth­er alarm­ing con­fir­ma­tion of the com­mon wor­ry that an­tibi­ot­ic de­vel­op­ers face slim com­mer­cial prospects even af­ter they have over­come the of­ten lengthy reg­u­la­to­ry jour­ney. Big Phar­ma has large­ly bowed out of ba­sic re­search in the field, as ex­em­pli­fied in No­var­tis’ high-pro­file ex­it in re­cent months, though Genen­tech claimed a no­table ex­cep­tion with a pre­clin­i­cal can­di­date that its re­searchers say can rep­re­sent a new class for drug-re­sis­tant gram-neg­a­tive bac­te­ria.

In Melin­ta’s case, it took 17 years and sev­er­al CEOs to get an OK for Baxdela, which was launched this Jan­u­ary with “in­creas­ing mo­men­tum,” John­son said.

The ex­ecs, though, have toned down an­tic­i­pat­ed sales of Or­ba­tiv and Minocin — two of the three prod­ucts that came with the Med­i­cines Co deal — by a few mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Melin­ta was ap­ply­ing its dis­cov­ery plat­form on pro­grams in ac­ne and bac­te­r­i­al vagi­nosis as well as next-gen an­tibi­otics to com­bat “su­per­bugs” — a press­ing con­cern that the OECD warns will kill mil­lions glob­al­ly by 2050. Those pro­grams’ fate re­mains to be seen.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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As­traZeneca caps PD-L1/CT­LA-4/chemo com­bo come­back with OS win. Is treme­li­mum­ab fi­nal­ly ready for ap­proval?

AstraZeneca’s closely-watched POSEIDON study continues to be the rare bright spot in its push for an in-house PD-L1/CTLA-4 combo.

Combining Imfinzi and tremelimumab with physicians’ choice of chemotherapy helped patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer live longer, the company reported — marking the first time the still-experimental tremelimumab has demonstrated an OS benefit.

For AstraZeneca and CEO Pascal Soriot, the positive readout — which is devoid of numbers — offers much-needed validation for the big bet they made on Imfinzi plus tremelimumab, after the PD-L1/CTLA-4 regimen failed multiple trials in head and neck cancer as well as lung cancer.

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An­oth­er failed tri­al for Or­p­hazyme's 'pipeline-in-a-pro­duc­t' leaves shad­ow on drug's fu­ture

The tumultuous ride for Orphazyme continued on Friday as the company announced that a pivotal trial for its lead drug arimoclomol failed yet again, this time in the treatment of ALS, seeding doubt in a drug that had recently been cleared by the FDA for priority review. The latest failure casts a darker shadow on the upcoming decision despite Orphazyme’s upbeat outlook.

In a statement, the Danish biotech announced that the drug did not meet its primary or secondary endpoints evaluating function and survival. But the company has not announced any data surrounding the failure, instead saying that it will publish the complete results later this year.

Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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Angela Merkel (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Covid-19 roundup: Pfiz­er sub­mits vac­cine for full ap­proval; Merkel op­pos­es Biden pro­pos­al to sus­pend IP for vac­cines

Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday that they’ve submitted a biologics license application to the FDA for full approval of their mRNA vaccine for those over the age of 16.

How long it will take the FDA to decide on the BLA will be set once it’s been formally accepted by the agency.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, previously told Endpoints News that the review of the BLA should take between three and four months, but it may be even faster than that.

UP­DAT­ED: EMA safe­ty com­mit­tee seeks more in­fo on heart in­flam­ma­tion fol­low­ing Pfiz­er Covid-19 vac­cine

The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee said Friday that it’s aware of cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and inflammation of the membrane around the heart, mainly reported following vaccination with Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, known in Europe as Comirnaty.

“There is no indication that these cases are due to the vaccine,” the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee said.

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Ron DePinho (file photo)

A 'fly­over' biotech launch­es in Texas with four Ron De­Pin­ho-found­ed com­pa­nies un­der its belt

In his 13 years at Genzyme, Michael Wyzga noticed something about East Coast drugmakers. Execs would often jet from Boston or New York to San Francisco to find more assets, and completely miss the work being done in flyover states, like Texas or Wisconsin.

“If it doesn’t come out of MGH or MIT or Harvard, probably not that interesting,” he said of the mindset.

Now, he and some well-known industry players are looking to change that, and they’ve reeled in just over $38 million to do it.

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In­cyte ponies up $12M to set­tle char­i­ty foun­da­tion kick­back claims; US ex­er­cis­es op­tion for more dos­es of mon­key­pox vac­cine

One in a string of lawsuits targeting copay charity foundations, the DOJ has been hunting drugmaker Incyte for what prosecutors alleged was a kickback scheme to court patients. Now, Incyte is clearing its name.

Incyte will shell out $12.6 million to settle claims it funneled funds through a charity foundation to cover federal copays for patients taking its JAK inhibitor Jakafi, the DOJ said this week.