NHS refuses to cover Ocrevus for primary progressive MS; OxStem taps veteran drug hunter Georg Terstappen as CSO
→ UK drug price watchdog NICE is not recommending NHS coverage of Roche’s Ocrevus for primary progressive multiple sclerosis. The decision immediately triggered an outcry from patient groups. The drug is covered for the relapsing/remitting form of the disease, but has less decisive data to back it up as a unique entry for the primary progressive form of the disease. Roche suggested a confidential price to compromise on that, but red tape is preventing the watchdogs from considering it. You can expect plenty more debate on this one.
→ After a brief stint at GlaxoSmithKline’s R&D center in Shanghai, Georg Terstappen is back in Europe to take a CSO job with OxStem. Founded by Oxford professors and serial entrepreneurs Steve Davies, Kay Davies and Angela Russell, the biotech’s big idea is it can treat age-related conditions by sending in small molecule drugs to program stem and stem-like cells in situ. An experienced drug hunter, Terstappen had previously started his own drug discovery biotech before working for AbbVie and leading a public-private investigation in Europe.
→ Innate Immunotherapies has changed its name to Amplia Therapeutics in a break with its troubled past — and perhaps with the disgraced congressman that brought it to infamy. Amplia is the name of the company Innate acquired in May and the developer of its new lead programs in immuno-oncology, which replaced an experimental multiple sclerosis drug that failed definitively in a Phase IIb study. The name change, described by Amplia as “part of a wider branding refresh of the company,” comes in the wake of the indictment of New York GOP Rep. Chris Collins, a former shareholder and board member who was accused of sharing inside tips with family and friends ahead of that trial failure.
→ Biotech vet Linda Basse has been named the new CMO at Sweden’s Medivir. She’s had stints at Zealand and Genmab while building an 18-year track record in drug development and marketing. She has a PhD from Copenhagen University.