Brett Favre (Michael Owens via AP Images)

NFL leg­end Brett Favre named in Mis­sis­sip­pi tri­al over mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed wel­fare funds go­ing to con­cus­sion biotech

Most peo­ple know the name Brett Favre when it comes to the NFL as one of the best quar­ter­backs to play the game, bring­ing a de­clin­ing Green Bay Pack­ers fran­chise back to life and end­ing up on top of sev­er­al sta­tis­tics lists along the way.

Shad White

Now, how­ev­er, he’s got a court case ahead of him for his role in a wel­fare fraud scheme that, ac­cord­ing to Mis­sis­sip­pi state au­di­tor Shad White, is the largest pub­lic fraud in state his­to­ry.

Favre, 52, was named along­side 37 oth­er de­fen­dants in a civ­il suit filed ear­li­er this week in state dis­trict court af­ter al­leged­ly play­ing a role in the con­cus­sion biotech Pre­va­c­us, and its af­fil­i­ate PreSolMD, re­ceiv­ing part of $24 mil­lion from Mis­sis­sip­pi’s Tem­po­rary As­sis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies (TANF) an­ti-pover­ty pro­gram. As their largest out­side in­vestor, Favre had in­vest­ed more than $250,000 in Pre­va­c­us as of De­cem­ber 2018, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

It’s the newest suit filed in an on­go­ing string of cas­es that have al­ready re­sult­ed in some con­vic­tions and may lead to more.

Jake Van­Land­ing­ham

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, a woman named Nan­cy New and her son Zach New ran two non-prof­it cen­ters in the state: the Mis­sis­sip­pi Com­mu­ni­ty Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter (MCEC) and Fam­i­ly Re­source Cen­ter of North Mis­sis­sip­pi. The suit al­so de­tails Favre’s in­volve­ment: Favre urged Pre­va­c­us’s CEO and his busi­ness part­ner, Jake Van­Land­ing­ham, in late 2018 to ap­proach Nan­cy New and ask her to use the Mis­sis­sip­pi De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices (MDHS) grant funds to in­vest in the biotech.

Nan­cy New

The suit al­so al­leges that Favre told Van­Land­ing­ham that “Nan­cy New had pre­vi­ous­ly pro­vid­ed sub­stan­tial grant funds on his be­half.”

It goes fur­ther — Favre host­ed Van­Land­ing­ham at his home in Mis­sis­sip­pi on Jan­u­ary 2, 2019, with a few guests, in­clud­ing the News and then for­mer MDHS di­rec­tor John Davis, as Van­Land­ing­ham pitched his com­pa­ny. In Jan­u­ary 2019, the moth­er-and-son duo, along­side Nan­cy’s oth­er son at­tor­ney Jesse New, made the first of six pay­ments to Pre­va­c­us that to­taled ap­prox­i­mate­ly $2.1 mil­lion from an ini­tial pay­ment of $750,000 on Jan. 18, 2019. Ac­cord­ing to the suit, all par­ties in­volved knew — or should have known — that those pay­ments would con­sti­tute “an il­le­gal trans­ac­tion un­der statu­to­ry and com­mon law.”

John Davis

Nan­cy New and Zach New pled guilty last month for their roles ex­tend­ing be­yond Pre­va­c­us, and in ex­change had agreed to tes­ti­fy against oth­ers in­volved in the scheme, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal news­pa­per The Clar­i­on-Ledger.

Davis re­tired as MDHS di­rec­tor in Ju­ly 2019. How­ev­er, he was in­dict­ed last month on more than 20 felony charges re­lat­ed to his al­leged­ly ex­ten­sive role in how mon­ey from the TANF pro­gram was spent. He is cur­rent­ly await­ing tri­al, which cur­rent­ly is sched­uled to start on Sep­tem­ber 26.

State pros­e­cu­tors al­so high­light­ed a con­tract be­tween Nan­cy New/MCEC and Pre­va­c­us that was signed on Jan. 19, 2019, one day af­ter the first $750k was giv­en ahead of a to­tal of $1.7 mil­lion to Pre­va­c­us for “de­vel­op­ment fund­ing.” Per the 81-page fil­ing:

That same Agree­ment false­ly pre­tend­ed that the $1.7 mil­lion in­vest­ment of MDHS-de­rived funds in Pre­va­c­us was for the pur­pose of se­cur­ing “clin­i­cal tri­al sites” to be lo­cat­ed with­in Mis­sis­sip­pi in or­der to pro­mote an ex­per­i­men­tal an­ti-con­cus­sion drug be­ing de­vel­oped by Pre­va­c­us. That rep­re­sen­ta­tion of that mo­tive or pur­pose, for in­vest­ing $1.7 mil­lion of TANF funds in­to Pre­va­c­us and/or PreSolMD, was false.

Pros­e­cu­tors brought six charges for­ward against the de­fen­dants, which in­clude civ­il con­spir­a­cy, neg­li­gence, and breach of con­tracts.

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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Delaware court rules against Gilead and Astel­las in years-long patent case

A judge in Delaware has ruled against Astellas Pharma and Gilead in a long-running patent case over Pfizer-onwed Hospira’s generic version of Lexiscan.

The case kicked off in 2018, after Hospira submitted an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for approval to market a generic version of Gilead’s Lexiscan. The drug is used in myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), a type of nuclear stress test.

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb sues No­var­tis for roy­al­ties sur­round­ing the use of trans­genic mice

Two Big Pharma companies are going to the mat over genetically modified mice in a licensing dispute.

Bristol Myers Squibb is suing Novartis in New York over a dispute concerning an evaluation, research and commercialization agreement stretching back to the late ’90s initially inked between Novartis and BMS’ predecessor Medarex. The deal in question allowed Novartis to use Medarex’s patented transgenic mice to develop therapeutic drugs. Novartis agreed to pay Medarex – and subsequently BMS – a royalty on sales of drugs it developed using the mice.

Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

West Vir­ginia man faces prison time for threat­en­ing emails to Fau­ci, oth­er health of­fi­cials

NIAID director Anthony Fauci gained hero status amid the pandemic, earning Americans’ trust and even Time magazine’s Guardian of the Year title. But he and other federal health officials have also faced intense threats, according to charges brought by the US Department of Justice.

A West Virginia man is facing up to 10 years in prison after threatening Fauci, former NIH director Francis Collins, and HHS assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine via email, the DOJ said on Monday. Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., pleaded guilty on Monday to using an anonymous email address to threaten the officials for performing their official duties, including discussing Covid-19 testing and prevention.

Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Charles Krupa/AP Images)

Mod­er­na chief Ban­cel to do­nate about $355M worth of ear­ly stock to char­i­ty

Four days ago, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel was made a Chevalier — basically knighted — in his home country of France. And now the billionaire CEO said he will exercise and donate about  $355 million in stock options.

Bancel announced early Tuesday via a blog post that he and his wife Brenda will be donating the after-tax proceeds of his original stock options to charity — the stock options Bancel was granted back in 2013 after he became CEO, two years after he first joined the mRNA specialist outfit.

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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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David Sinclair, Genocea Biosciences co-founder (Alpha Wave Global)

Geno­cea reach­es end of road, delist­ing from Nas­daq and let­ting go of re­main­ing staff

A pivot into neoantigen immunotherapies was not enough to save Genocea Biosciences after all.

The 16-year-old biotech said it would be closing down and laying off all remaining employees “except those deemed necessary to complete an orderly wind down” of operations. It has also delivered a formal notice to Nasdaq, notifying the stock exchange of its intent to delist voluntarily.

The move comes a month after Genocea laid off 75% of its workforce and revealed it’s looking for strategic alternatives, such as a sale, merger or reverse merger. At the end of 2021, it had 74 employees.