→ Besieged by shorts with a Justice Department probe reportedly under way, the purge at MiMedx $MDXG has now led to the exit of CEO Parker “Pete” Petit and COO William “Bill” Taylor. The audit committee at the biotech has been doing its own internal investigation, which has already led to the departure of the CFO and treasurer. David Coles was named interim CEO. “The Board is confident that now is the right time for MiMedx to transition its leadership team as we look to the future and prepare our Company for its next chapter,” said chairman Charles Evans. The biotechs shares swooned on the latest news, plunging 26%.
→ President Donald Trump and his healthcare team in Washington DC have some explaining to do. After Trump recently boasted that pharma companies were prepping a huge cut in drug prices, Pfizer is countering with higher prices on a slate of 100 of its portfolio therapies. The scoop comes from the Financial Times, which has reportedly seen the new price list. To be fair, HHS Secretary Alex Azar has conceded that the reality may be somewhat different from the president’s public comments. The move, though, will almost certainly stoke some kind of political backlash. Pharma companies have relied on a steady drumbeat of annual price hikes to create the kind of balance sheet investors love. It’s absolutely certain to produce results, without any of the risk of R&D. It’s also become a political hot potato. Will Pfizer — which has consistently thumbed its nose at pricing critics — now prompt the administration to try a name-and-shame response? Will it make any difference?
→ After a two-month blockade, the FDA has cleared the clinical hold it slapped on Compugen’s first-in-human trial for its I/O drug, clearing the Israeli biotech to finally begin its first ever Phase I study. The trial, to be conducted in the US, will evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of its in-house antibody COM701 — both as monotherapy and in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor — in patients with solid tumors who have failed standard of care treatments. The drug targets PVRIG, a B7/CD28-like immune checkpoint target candidate identified by Compugen, which has a partnership with Bayer with another novel target. That was much welcome news for investors, and the company’s shares $CGEN surged 16.67% in pre-market trading, though not still fully recovering from the drop in late April, when the FDA hit the brakes with a a request for slight modification and more information.
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