Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Char­lie Bak­er un­veils a $500M pro­gram to keep its big biotech hub boom­ing

The biotech hub in Boston/Cam­bridge is boom­ing, and Gov­er­nor Char­lie Bak­er is ad­vo­cat­ing a $500 mil­lion pro­gram for the next five years aimed at keep­ing the good times rolling.

It’s set up as a suc­ces­sor to for­mer Gov­er­nor De­val Patrick’s high-pro­file $1 bil­lion plan, un­veiled in 2008, to help spark growth in the life sci­ences field. Bak­er is propos­ing to spend $295 mil­lion on in­fra­struc­ture col­lab­o­ra­tions in the state, while ear­mark­ing $150 mil­lion for tax in­cen­tives de­signed to lever­age the cre­ation of new jobs.

While cater­ing to po­lit­i­cal con­stituen­cies around the state to make it more palat­able to all law­mak­ers, the gov­er­nor’s pro­pos­al comes af­ter an era of sharp growth cen­tered in Cam­bridge and rip­pling through the big Boston metro area. Just this morn­ing a new re­port on key in­dus­try trends from EY high­light­ed the re­gion’s con­tin­ued abil­i­ty to at­tract bil­lions in in­vest­ment cap­i­tal for star­tups.

Bob Cough­lin

Be­fore De­val Patrick came along with his $1 bil­lion plan, the life sci­ences in­dus­try had grown deeply en­trenched in the state, build­ing a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Har­vard and MIT and the life sci­ences busi­ness­es like Bio­gen that got start­ed here. The biotech in­dus­try en­joys the role of one of the most fa­vored groups in the state, and lo­cal ex­ecs lined up to praise the new ini­tia­tive and the politi­cian who will pro­mote it.

“Ver­tex calls Mass­a­chu­setts home be­cause the Com­mon­wealth is the glob­al leader in life sci­ences, and this leg­is­la­tion, cou­pled with the Gov­er­nor’s tremen­dous sup­port for the in­dus­try, will pro­vide the tools nec­es­sary to main­tain our lead­er­ship po­si­tion,” said Ver­tex CEO Jef­frey Lei­den in a state­ment.

Mass­Bio chief Bob Cough­lin loud­ly ap­plaud­ed the pro­gram, not­ing:

For Mass­a­chu­setts res­i­dents Gov­er­nor Bak­er’s ac­tions mean more high pay­ing jobs in all cor­ners of the state for years to come. For pa­tients of the world, it means more break­through cures and treat­ments will reach them faster.

Eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment pro­grams like these are cer­tain­ly wel­comed with a smile. But states like Flori­da that tried to ig­nite their own biotech booms have come away with lit­tle to show for it. Cal­i­for­nia’s stem cell pro­gram in­vest­ed bil­lions on the field, but that wave re­ced­ed with­out cre­at­ing much in the way of vi­able new com­pa­nies and jobs.

Mass­a­chu­setts, though, gets to help fu­el a fire that’s al­ready burn­ing bright­ly.

Cell and Gene Con­tract Man­u­fac­tur­ers Must Em­brace Dig­i­ti­za­tion

The Cell and Gene Industry is growing at a staggering 30% CAGR and is estimated to reach $14B by 20251. A number of cell, gene and stem cell therapy sponsors currently have novel drug substances and products and many rely on Contract Development Manufacturing Organizations (CDMO) to produce them with adherence to stringent regulatory cGMP conditions. Cell and gene manufacturing for both autologous (one to one) and allogenic (one to many) treatments face difficult issues such as: a complex supply chain, variability on patient and cellular level, cell expansion count and a tight scheduling of lot disposition process. This complexity affects quality, compliance and accountability in the entire vein-to-vein process for critically ill patients.

Inside FDA HQ (File photo)

The FDA just ap­proved the third Duchenne MD drug. And reg­u­la­tors still don’t know if any of them work

Last year Sarepta hit center stage with the FDA’s controversial reversal of its CRL for the company’s second Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug — after the biotech was ambushed by agency insiders ready to reject a second pitch based on the same disease biomarker used for the first approval for eteplirsen, without actual data on the efficacy of the drug.

On Wednesday the FDA approved the third Duchenne MD drug, based on the same biomarker. And regulators were ready to act yet again despite the lack of efficacy data.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

A lab technician works during research on coronavirus at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: End­points News ranks all 28 play­ers in the Covid-19 vac­cine race. Here's how it stacks up to­day

(This piece was last updated on August 13. Endpoints News will continue to track the latest developments through the FDA’s marketing decisions.)

The 28 players now in or close to the clinical race to get a Covid-19 vaccine over the finish line are angling for a piece of a multibillion-dollar market. And being first — or among the leaders — will play a big role in determining just how big a piece.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Stéphane Bancel speaks to President Donald Trump at the White House meeting on March 2 (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mod­er­na of­fers steep dis­count in US sup­ply deal — but still takes the crown with close to $2.5B in vac­cine con­tracts

The US pre-order for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is in.

Operation Warp Speed is reserving $1.525 billion for 100 million doses of Moderna’s Phase III mRNA candidate, rounding out to about $15 per dose — including $300 million in incentive payments for timely delivery. Given that Moderna has a two-dose regimen, it’s good for vaccinating 50 million people. The US government also has the option to purchase another 400 million doses for a total of $6.6 billion, or $16.5 per dose.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Cal­lid­i­tas bets up to $102M on a biotech buy­out, snag­ging a once-failed PBC drug

After spending years developing its oral formulation of the corticosteroid budesonide, Sweden’s Calliditas now has its sights set on the primary biliary cholangitis field.

The company will buy out France-based Genkyotex, and it’s willing to bet up to €87 million ($102 million) that Genkyotex’s failed Phase II drug, GKT831, will do better in late-stage trials.

Under the current agreement, Calliditas $CALT will initially pay €20.3 million in cash for 62.7% of Genkyotex (or €2.80 a piece for 7,236,515 shares) in early October, then circle back for the rest of Genkyotex’s shares under the same terms. If nothing changes, the whole buyout will cost Calliditas €32.3 million, plus up to  €55 million in contingent rights.

Giovanni Caforio, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Bris­tol My­ers Squibb com­mits $300 mil­lion to com­bat racial dis­par­i­ties, but de­clines to re­lease own de­mo­graph­ic da­ta

After the police killing of George Floyd, a flurry of pharma and biotech companies, executives and investors jumped out to make statements, either expressing support for Black Lives Matter and the protests or condemning systemic racism.

Now, a Big Pharma company is publicly putting some teeth behind those statements. This morning, Bristol Myers Squibb announced they would spend $300 million on a broad effort to reduce racial health disparities, and diversify both their clinical trials and their own executive team and workforce.

Martin Shkreli (AP Images)

Mar­tin Shkre­li's in­fa­mous Dara­prim falls off top 20 most ex­pen­sive drugs list

Martin Shkreli incited a national uproar five years ago when he raised the price of Daraprim by a factor of 56 essentially overnight from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Now that the “Pharma Bro’s” high-priced project has received a generic, it no longer places among the most expensive drugs in the world.

GoodRx is back with the latest update of the top 20 most expensive drugs and Daraprim’s exclusion marks the biggest change. The drug had previously ranked seventh on the list’s last iteration, which came in February before the world went into quarantine. Another of Shkreli’s former companies, Retrophin, saw its Chenodal drug place in the top 10 again.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Qi­a­gen in­vestors spurn Ther­mo Fish­er’s takeover of­fer, de­rail­ing a $12B+ deal

Thermo Fisher Scientific had announced an $11.5 billion takeover of Dutch diagnostics company Qiagen back in March, but the deal apparently did not sit well with Qiagen investors.

After getting hammered by critics who contended that Qiagen $QGEN was worth a lot more than what Thermo Fisher wanted to spend, investors turned thumbs down on the offer — derailing the buyout even after Thermo Fisher increased its offer to $12.6 billion in July. Qiagen’s share price has been boosted considerably by Covid-19 as demand for its testing kits surged.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 87,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Xuefeng Yu in Hong Kong, 2019 (Imaginechina via AP Images)

CanSi­no reaps $748M wind­fall from Shang­hai IPO — as it warns Covid-19 vac­cine won't be a huge mon­ey mak­er

CanSino began the year with a clear goal to secure a secondary listing on Shanghai’s STAR market. Then something more urgent came along: As a rising vaccine developer on a mission to bring global standard immunizations to China, it heeded the call to make a vaccine to protect against a virus that would paralyze the whole world.

Xuefeng Yu and his team managed to keep doing both.

More than a month after CanSino’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is authorized for military use in China, the Hong Kong-listed company has made a roaring debut in Shanghai. It fetched $748 million (RMB$5.2 billion) by floating 24.8 million shares, and soared 88% on its first trading day.