Mer­ck CEO Ken Fra­zier re­signs from Trump coun­cil in protest, and the pres­i­dent swift­ly bites back

Mer­ck CEO Ken Fra­zier, the on­ly African-Amer­i­can run­ning a top glob­al bio­phar­ma com­pa­ny, has very pub­licly bro­ken with Pres­i­dent Trump, re­sign­ing in protest from the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s man­u­fac­tur­ing coun­cil in the wake of a grow­ing con­tro­ver­sy over the pres­i­dent’s un­will­ing­ness to sin­gle out white su­prema­cy groups in the vi­o­lent protests over the week­end in Char­lottesville, VA.

This move by Fra­zier will put con­sid­er­able pres­sure on the rest of the in­dus­try and its lob­by­ists to sep­a­rate them­selves from Trump — some­thing they’ve been loath to do – and take a more crit­i­cal po­si­tion on Trump’s pres­i­den­cy as well as some of his poli­cies.

It is al­so di­rect­ed against a pres­i­dent who has proven to be no­to­ri­ous­ly thin-skinned about crit­i­cism of any kind. And Trump proved that by fir­ing back right at Fra­zier one of the in­dus­try’s weak spots. He tweet­ed:

Fra­zier, though, was clear­ly fed up with the pres­i­dent to­day.

Tak­ing to Trump’s fa­vorite medi­um, Twit­ter, Mer­ck quot­ed Fra­zier, say­ing:

I am re­sign­ing from the Pres­i­dent’s Amer­i­can Man­u­fac­tur­ing Coun­cil.

Our coun­try’s strength stems from its di­ver­si­ty and the con­tri­bu­tions made by men and women of dif­fer­ent faiths, races, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tions and po­lit­i­cal be­liefs.

Amer­i­ca’s lead­ers must hon­or our fun­da­men­tal val­ues by clear­ly re­ject­ing ex­pres­sions of ha­tred, big­otry and group su­prema­cy, which run counter to the Amer­i­can ide­al that all peo­ple are cre­at­ed equal.

As CEO of Mer­ck and as a mat­ter of per­son­al con­science, I feel a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to take a stand against in­tol­er­ance and ex­trem­ism.

The con­tro­ver­sy over the pres­i­dent’s state­ment cit­ing “many sides” for the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville — which in­clud­ed the death of one of the pro­test­ers who turned out to op­pose demon­stra­tions by neo-Nazis and oth­er right-wing ex­trem­ists — has been gain­ing vol­ume steadi­ly.

The move clear­ly didn’t hurt Mer­ck’s stock. The phar­ma gi­ant’s shares were up 1% in ear­ly trad­ing to­day.

Fra­zier’s de­ci­sion to stand down now comes as the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try has sought to lob­by the White House for new rules al­low­ing for the repa­tri­a­tion of bil­lions of dol­lars in over­seas ac­counts at a more at­trac­tive tax rate. Fra­zier had been a reg­u­lar at the White House, along with oth­er top cor­po­rate CEOs in the in­dus­try.

In biotech, though, ex­ecs through­out the small­er com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try have voiced their op­po­si­tion to a num­ber of Trump’s ini­tia­tives, in par­tic­u­lar sin­gling out his stab at in­sti­tut­ing new im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies tar­get­ing sev­er­al Mus­lim-ma­jor­i­ty coun­tries. And it wasn’t long be­fore sup­port for Fra­zier’s move be­gan to pop up on Twit­ter.

Don­ald Trump and Ken Fra­zier dur­ing the an­nounce­ment of a new­ly de­signed phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal glass bot­tle in the Roo­sevelt Room on Ju­ly 20, 2017 SAUL LOEB/AFP/Get­ty Im­ages

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Christophe Bourdon, Leo Pharma CEO

Leo Phar­ma looks 'be­yond the skin' in atopic der­mati­tis aware­ness cam­paign

As Leo Pharma aims to take on heavyweight champ Dupixent in atopic dermatitis, the company is launching “AD Days Around the World,” an awareness campaign documenting real patient stories across Europe.

The project, unveiled on Monday, spotlights four patients: Marjolaine, Laura, Julia and África from France, Italy, Germany and Spain, respectively, in short video clips on the challenges of living with AD, the most common form of eczema.