Neil Kumar bets nearly $1B on what BridgeBio hopes will be their first big drug
BridgeBio CEO Neil Kumar finally won back full control of the drug he let get (partially) away.
On Monday, after three failed attempts, BridgeBio purchased the last bits of stock it didn’t already own in Eidos, buying up 36.3% of one of their first subsidiaries for a combination of cash and stock worth nearly $1 billion.
Kumar said in a statement that, with Phase III data pending, the buyout would help them prepare a global launch for what the 6-year-old company hopes will be their first major product, an Eidos rare disease drug known as AG10 or acoramidis. But he also noted in an interview that the deal reflected where the company now stood: Still private in 2018, they had to take part of Eidos public to fund pivotal studies; but since then BridgeBio had raised over $700 million on public markets.
“There was a time in which we couldn’t really afford what we needed to do clinically,” Kumar told Endpoints News. “Since then, BridgeBio’s been able to evolve as a company so that we have more and more resources, whereby we thought the reverse would be true, and bringing it back inside fully would allow the Eidos team to do even more.”
Although BridgeBio has yet to release pivotal data for any of the numerous drugs in its pipelines, Kumar has struck an upbeat note in recent months, saying they were nearing proof for his long-running strategy and laying out plans to submit two new drug applications to the FDA this year. Last week, the company submitted an NDA for fosdenopterin, a former Alexion drug for an ultra-rare neurological condition, despite the fact that they have yet to release any data from either of the two trials they say supports the application.
(In an email, Michael Henderson, CBO of BridgeBio and CEO of Origin, the subsidiary developing fosdenopterin, noted the trial had been restarted and said interim or final data results would be presented at medical conferences next year.)
BridgeBio hopes fosdenopterin and a rare cancer drug from their QED subsidiary will bring their first approvals, but Kumar acknowledged those drugs are not expected to be major commercial endeavors. Instead, he said, the big test for BridgeBio and Kumar’s thesis that he can accelerate drug development by picking genetically-driven early-stage assets and putting them under will lay in four different data readouts.
Chief among them is the Eidos drug, acoramidis. BridgeBio has just finished enrolling a Phase III trial for transthyretin amyloidosis, a relatively common rare disease where misfolded proteins secreted from the liver can cause potentially fatal cardiovascular events. A moderately effective Pfizer drug, Vyndaqel, for the condition, has earned $277 million through the first half of 2021 drug.
Kumar also listed scheduled readouts for an FGFR inhibitor in a rare bone growth disorder, a gene therapy for an adrenal disorder, and a small molecule for a calcium disorder.
“Those 4 are really what investors are focused on,” Kumar said. “If we are not successful on a majority of those, the thesis that we are good asset pickers and therefore our ability to prosecute on everything else will be challenged, it will be.”
Based on the 2018 Phase II data, though, Kumar was confident about the Eidos drug. Those results showed AG10 stabilized the protein in 90% of patients after 28 days of treatment. It also raised the concentration of the protein by 50% in the high dose and 36% in the low dose.
Ionis and Alnylam have also developed drugs in the field, both finding some efficacy but limited safety. And Pfizer, he noted, was only able to stabilize about 50% of the protein in patients.
“Think of it like a faucet,” he said. “Pfizer half turns off the faucet, we’re at 90%.”
He declined to offer a revenue projection, but noted analysts pegged the overall space as worth between $6 billion and $9 billion. He criticized some of the high prices that have fueled the market — Vyndaquel goes for $225,000 per year — but he noted how large the population was for a genetic disease, comparing it to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the disease that fueled Bristol Myers Squibb’s $13 billion acquisition of MyoKardia Monday.
“There are very few of these diseases that affect over 100,000 patients,” he said. “That portends revenues that are on the high end regardless of how one approaches it.”