News brief­ing: PureTech plans Nas­daq de­but with sec­ondary list­ing; GoodRx prices $725M IPO

Lon­don Stock Ex­change-list­ed PureTech Health an­nounced Wednes­day that it’s look­ing to ex­tend to Nas­daq. But due to its “strong cash po­si­tion,” the biotech says it isn’t is­su­ing any new shares in the po­ten­tial sec­ondary list­ing.

The com­pa­ny’s shares closed at £256.50 Tues­day on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change. Its can­di­date LYT-100 is cur­rent­ly in Phase I de­vel­op­ment for var­i­ous in­di­ca­tions, in­clud­ing lym­phat­ic flow dis­or­ders and fi­brot­ic and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­or­ders. PureTech is ex­pect­ing a Phase Ib read­out in lym­phat­ic flow dis­or­ders lat­er this year, and is al­so plan­ning to launch a Phase II study for the drug to treat res­pi­ra­to­ry con­di­tions ex­pe­ri­enced af­ter Covid-19.

In ad­di­tion to its own pipeline, PureTech ben­e­fits from a net­work of af­fil­i­ates, in­clud­ing Karuna Ther­a­peu­tics, which is work­ing on neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­der ther­a­pies, Gele­sis, which was FDA cleared for its weight man­age­ment drug Plen­i­ty, and Vedan­ta Bio­sciences, which is de­vel­op­ing mi­cro­bio­me drugs.

PureTech said it in­tends to con­tin­ue trad­ing on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change in ad­di­tion to its po­ten­tial US list­ing. — Nicole De­Feud­is 

Price watch­dog GoodRx rais­es $725 mil­lion, prices IPO

GoodRx, the con­sumer pre­scrip­tion drug plat­form and drug price watch­dog, an­nounced the pric­ing of its IPO Wednes­day morn­ing.

The com­pa­ny, which filed for the pub­lic of­fer­ing at the end of Au­gust, will be­gin trad­ing on the Nas­daq at $33 per share. Ini­tial­ly ex­pect­ing a $750 mil­lion raise, GoodRx came up just shy of that high tar­get and ul­ti­mate­ly pulled in $725 mil­lion.

GoodRx’s ini­tial price is the high­est among biotech IPOs this year — if you can call it a biotech.

So far in 2020, there have al­ready been more than 50 IPOs in the in­dus­try, eclips­ing the to­tal from all of 2019. As of mid-Au­gust, the com­pa­nies have raised a com­bined $11 bil­lion, but GoodRx’s hefty sum will sure­ly add to that to­tal.

GoodRx has be­come quite prof­itable in the last few years, de­spite be­ing main­ly known for com­pil­ing an­nu­al lists of the most ex­pen­sive drug prices and help­ing con­sumers com­pare pre­scrip­tion costs. In 2019 the com­pa­ny net­ted a prof­it of $66 mil­lion, and through the first of half of this year, they were on track to pock­et $100 mil­lion. — Max Gel­man

Ex­pand­ing a Cel­gene lega­cy pact, Bris­tol My­ers grabs celi­ac treat­ment from Anokion

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb is ap­par­ent­ly in­trigued enough by Anokion’s ap­proach for treat­ing au­toim­mune dis­ease to not just keep, but ex­pand the col­lab­o­ra­tion Cel­gene had inked with the Swiss biotech.

In the lat­est move, Bris­tol My­ers is grab­bing Anokion’s lead drug can­di­date, KAN-101, which is de­signed to treat celi­ac dis­ease by to­ler­iz­ing T cells to gluten anti­gens.

“We are in­trigued by the op­por­tu­ni­ty to lever­age this im­mune to­ler­iza­tion plat­form as a treat­ment for celi­ac dis­ease, as well as mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis,” Ru­pert Vessey, pres­i­dent of R&D, said in a state­ment.

Anokion is get­ting an undis­closed up­front pay­ment. As with the oth­er pro­grams cov­ered in deal, orig­i­nal­ly signed in 2016, the biotech is re­spon­si­ble for com­plet­ing pre­clin­cal and Phase I be­fore Bris­tol My­ers takes over the fund­ing of tri­als and sub­se­quent com­mer­cial work. — Am­ber Tong

Medi­gene chops staffers, switch­es fo­cus to TCR for sol­id tu­mors 

Ger­many’s Medi­gene is lay­ing off a quar­ter of its staff as it hun­kers down to fo­cus on the lead pro­grams in T cell re­cep­tor T cell ther­a­py.

The biotech, which boasts of al­liances with blue­bird and Vivek Ra­maswamy’s Cy­to­vant, not­ed that the chal­lenges as­so­ci­at­ed with treat­ing very sick can­cer pa­tients amid a pan­dem­ic is forc­ing it to take longer with the Phase I dose es­ca­la­tion tri­al of MDG1011 in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome. But once that’s done, it will be look­ing for a part­ner for the Phase II por­tion.

Look­ing ahead, Medi­gene said it will con­cen­trate all pre­clin­i­cal R&D ac­tiv­i­ties on de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies for sol­id tu­mors. — Am­ber Tong

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Who’s spend­ing and who’s cut­ting from Big Phar­ma’s $127B R&D bud­get? Here are the top 15 play­ers

A couple of the Big 15 biopharma companies in R&D hit the gas on research spending last year. Merck and Sanofi still have lots to prove in the pipeline, and they’re willing to gamble large sums to make a better future for themselves.

Doing nothing would be infinitely worse.

But collectively, the top players rang up a modest 2.4% increase in spending in 2022, which didn’t cover inflationary pressures. And that set the tone for an extraordinarily cautious year for the industry — even as it laid out about $127 billion to advance new drugs or up the ante on approved therapies.

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Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Van­da wins court case against FDA over dis­clo­sure of CRL de­tails for sleep drug

DC District Court Judge Christopher Cooper today granted Vanda Pharma’s request to require the FDA to disclose more info on the complete response letter for its sleep disorder drug Hetlioz.

The melatonin receptor agonist is approved by the FDA to treat non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, a circadian rhythm disorder. But in 2018 Vanda filed a supplemental application to market Hetlioz as a treatment for jet lag, which the FDA rejected in August 2019, with few details on what Vanda needed to correct course, according to the company.

Sally Susman, Pfizer EVP and chief corporate affairs officer

Q&A: Pfiz­er cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Sal­ly Sus­man dis­cuss­es book craft­ed in pan­dem­ic and per­son­al lessons

From the political arena to the finance and beauty industries to pharmaceuticals, Pfizer’s Sally Susman has broken barriers, stereotypes and conventions. And now the chief communicator is “Breaking Through,” the title of her first book about effective and innovative communications launching today. The full official title is “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World.”

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Kevin Lee, Bicycle Therapeutics CEO

No­var­tis rides with Bi­cy­cle for new pact on tar­get­ed ra­dio­ther­a­pies

Novartis has inked a three-year deal with Bicycle Therapeutics to develop new targeted radiotherapies for cancer.

Novartis will pay Bicycle $50 million upfront, with downstream milestones adding up to a potential $1.7 billion. In exchange, Bicycle will use its virus-based platform to discover new bicyclic peptides, which it calls bicycles, that would be used for radiotherapies. Those bicycles would act as a homing beacon for radioactive isotopes, delivering them to cancer cells to kill the cells while limiting radiation to healthy tissue.

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Covant acting CEO Matt Maisak (L) and CSO Iván Cornella

With Boehringer In­gel­heim’s help, Roivant churns out an­oth­er Vant to go up against En­deav­or, Im­pact founders

Roivant Sciences has added another branch to its family tree, unveiling Covant Therapeutics with a $10 million upfront commitment from Boehringer Ingelheim to turn up the heat in cancer.

The Boston-based drug discovery startup will jointly create a new small molecule immunotherapy with the private German pharma giant. The deal, made public Tuesday morning, includes up to $471 million in future payments and tiered royalties, should the product make it to market.

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Gun­ning for 2023 ap­proval, GSK de­tails PhI­II da­ta for Jem­per­li in front­line en­dome­tri­al can­cer

GSK has a new slate of data to offer on its PD-1 inhibitor, Jemperli — data that the pharma giant hopes will cement one of the four drug approvals it’s expecting this year.

While Jemperli (dostarlimab) is already approved for a subset of patients with second-line endometrial cancer, GSK set out in the Phase III RUBY trial to test it as an earlier line of treatment while also enrolling a broader group of patients. In an interim analysis, Jemperli was shown to extend progression-free survival for both the subset and the overall trial population when added to chemotherapy.

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Es­pe­ri­on sues Dai­ichi Sankyo, de­mand­ing pay­ment of $300M mile­stone for car­dio drug

Esperion is suing its business partner Daiichi Sankyo, saying the Japanese drugmaker is improperly refusing to pay a $300 million milestone that the biotech company will be owed after reporting positive data from a large trial of its cardiovascular drug Nexletol.

The 2019 deal between the companies had Daiichi Sankyo pay $150 million upfront plus another $150 million after the first sales of the drug. But another major payout was tied to an outcomes study reported this month, known as CLEAR. Esperion, in its suit against Daiichi, argues that the drug’s more than 20% reduction of heart attack risk is enough to trigger a $300 million payout from Daiichi once it’s added to the drug’s label.

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