Brian Lian, Viking Therapeutics CEO

Meta­bol­ic dis­ease out­fit ac­cus­es Chi­nese biotech of steal­ing trade se­crets to ad­vance com­pet­ing drug

NASH is a big in­di­ca­tion with plen­ty of ben­e­fits to the first com­pa­ny that can suc­cess­ful­ly get a work­ing drug on the mar­ket. And ac­cord­ing to one US biotech, a Chi­nese com­pa­ny stole trade se­crets in or­der to get a head start.

Viking Ther­a­peu­tics is su­ing Chi­nese biotech As­cle­tis Phar­ma in Cal­i­for­nia dis­trict court, claim­ing that As­cle­tis es­sen­tial­ly duped the biotech in­to di­vulging its trade se­crets to the com­pa­ny and gave As­cle­tis the op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­lease its own drug prod­uct to di­rect­ly com­pete with Viking.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint filed on Dec. 29, Viking’s lead can­di­date, VK2809, is a se­lec­tive ag­o­nist of thy­roid hor­mone re­cep­tor be­ta (THRβ) in Phase II tri­als and de­signed to treat meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders like high cho­les­terol, NAFLD and NASH. In 2016, Viking claimed that As­cle­tis re­quest­ed to meet Viking in San Fran­cis­co at the BIO In­ter­na­tion­al Con­ven­tion that year about a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion on Viking’s can­di­date, and both com­pa­nies agreed to sign a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment be­fore mov­ing for­ward. Af­ter sign­ing, Viking said that it shared in­for­ma­tion about the can­di­date with As­cle­tis, but the col­lab­o­ra­tion did not move for­ward.

Fast for­ward to 2019, when As­cle­tis again ap­proached Viking about a “po­ten­tial busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ty re­gard­ing VK2809.” The two par­ties then signed a con­fi­den­tial­i­ty agree­ment, and Viking shared in­for­ma­tion about the drug. Af­ter re­view­ing it for al­most a month, As­cle­tis backed out again, Viking said in the court docs. Five months af­ter back­ing out, Viking says it dis­cov­ered that As­cle­tis founder and CEO Ja­son Wu found­ed an­oth­er com­pa­ny called Gan­nex Phar­ma, a sub­sidiary of As­cle­tis.

Viking then went on to say that in ear­ly 2020, Gan­nex start­ed sub­mit­ting patent ap­pli­ca­tions in Chi­na and in the US that con­tained Viking trade se­crets re­lat­ed to VK2809. Viking found out about what it called the “theft and im­prop­er dis­clo­sure” of Viking’s trade se­crets in 2021 af­ter the patents were pub­lished.

Viking said that the com­pa­ny, which has now done sev­er­al clin­i­cal tri­als for two dif­fer­ent drug can­di­dates, “could not have so quick­ly ad­vanced their de­vel­op­ment, test­ing, and com­mer­cial­iza­tion ef­forts with­out breach­ing the CDAs and im­prop­er­ly and in­ten­tion­al­ly mis­us­ing Viking Trade Se­crets to Viking’s detri­ment.”

As­cle­tis said in a re­lease on Mon­day that as of its an­nounce­ment, the com­pa­ny had not yet been served with the com­plaints — one filed in Cal­i­for­nia, and an­oth­er filed with the Unit­ed States In­ter­na­tion­al Trade Com­mis­sion. How­ev­er, the com­pa­ny added that it be­lieves the ac­cu­sa­tions “have no mer­it and will vig­or­ous­ly de­fend against the Com­plaints.”

This is the lat­est from the US biotech since FDA lift­ed a clin­i­cal hold on Viking’s X-linked adrenoleukody­s­tro­phy (X-ALD) pro­gram last year af­ter Viking pre­sent­ed an FDA-re­quest­ed ro­dent geno­tox­i­c­i­ty study.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

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Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

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Bill Anderson, incoming Bayer CEO (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bay­er taps Roche's Bill An­der­son to lead phar­ma gi­ant as CEO

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German pharma giant Bayer announced Wednesday that Anderson will be taking on the role as CEO, less than six weeks after Anderson stepped down from his perch at Roche as head of the group’s pharmaceutical division.

Roche announced back in December that Anderson would depart on Dec. 31 to “pursue opportunities outside of Roche.” His replacement, Genentech vet and Roche’s current head of global product strategy, Teresa Graham, will start her role in March.

DC court over­rules PhRMA's bid to shut down drug im­ports from Cana­da

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