No­var­tis builds can­cer pipeline with a new plat­form/drug buy­out, bag­ging Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions for $3.9B

No­var­tis has just bought it­self a new can­cer ther­a­py as well as a new tech plat­form for $3.9 bil­lion in cash, bag­ging the French biotech Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions $AAAP.

The phar­ma gi­ant is pay­ing a mod­est 44% pre­mi­um over the biotech’s mar­ket val­u­a­tion from Sep­tem­ber 28, when Bloomberg re­port­ed that No­var­tis was kick­ing the tires and run­ning the num­bers on the biotech’s drug Lu­tathera (177Lu-DOTATATE).

The drug is a ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal — us­ing ra­dioiso­topes to tar­get neu­roen­docrine tu­mors — a fo­cus where No­var­tis has con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence. The phar­ma play­er tout­ed the piv­otal da­ta for the drug from the NET­TER-1 study, which demon­strat­ed a 79% re­duc­tion in the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion, with an in­ter­im me­di­an pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival rate of 8.4 months that had yet to max out.

No­var­tis al­so gets a pipeline of drugs off the new plat­form with some near-term po­ten­tial it likes. That line­up on AAA’s ex­per­i­men­tal meds in­cludes 177Lu-PS­MA-R2, which is now en­ter­ing a Phase I/II study.

Ap­proved in Eu­rope, the FDA forced the biotech in­to the wait­ing line late last year af­ter shak­ing its head at the way the com­pa­ny had pre­sent­ed some of the da­ta in its ap­pli­ca­tion, forc­ing a re­jec­tion at the time. An ap­proval would build on No­var­tis $NVS OK for Afin­i­tor in ear­ly 2016 as a treat­ment for neu­roen­docrine tu­mors, as well as its mar­ket­ing of San­do­statin.

Bruno St­rig­i­ni

Now the biotech is wait­ing for an­oth­er dead­line to loom on the de­layed ap­pli­ca­tion, and No­var­tis clear­ly be­lieves that this time reg­u­la­tors should clear it for mar­ket­ing.

The deal falls right in­to No­var­tis’ sweet spot. Out­go­ing CEO Joe Jimenez — soon to be re­placed by R&D chief Vas Narasimhan — has said sev­er­al times that the com­pa­ny is pri­mar­i­ly in­ter­est­ed in adding bolt-ons in the $2 bil­lion to $5 bil­lion range. This deal beefs up its can­cer pipeline and port­fo­lio af­ter a ma­jor swap with Glax­o­SmithK­line land­ed the UK phar­ma gi­ant’s ad­vanced on­col­o­gy drugs.

Pe­ter Welford at Jef­feries likes this deal, start­ing the peak sales fore­cast at $650 mil­lion a year for Lu­tathera, with a chance to add on about $285 mil­lion through added ap­provals.

Im­pres­sive Phase III NET­TER-1 da­ta, clin­i­cian feed­back, and a pro­pri­etary US physi­cian sur­vey all un­der­pin our con­fi­dence in Lu­tathera. The prod­uct is based on a well known con­cept of so­mato­statin ana­logues for NETs, has al­ready treat­ed >3,000 pa­tients, and ad­dress­es an un­met med­ical need. We fore­cast $650m peak sales treat­ing midgut GEP-NETs for $30/ADS NPV at 100% prob­a­bil­i­ty, as­sum­ing AAA com­mer­cialis­es it­self in US/EU tar­get­ing the spe­cial­ist cen­tres. Adop­tion to treat oth­er types of NETs could of­fer sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial up­side, with on­ly $7/ADS NPV cur­rent­ly as­signed as­sum­ing 60% prob­a­bil­i­ty and $285m in­cre­men­tal peak sales.

“No­var­tis has a strong lega­cy in the de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of med­i­cines for neu­roen­docrine tu­mors where sig­nif­i­cant un­met need re­mains for pa­tients,” said Bruno St­rig­i­ni, the head of No­var­tis On­col­o­gy. “With Lu­tathera we can build on this lega­cy by ex­pand­ing the glob­al reach of this nov­el, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed treat­ment ap­proach and work to max­i­mize Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions broad­er RLT pipeline and an ex­cit­ing tech­nol­o­gy plat­form.”

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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