Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

No­var­tis looks to of­fload even more of its eye prod­ucts — re­port

Fol­low­ing its re­cent trend of of­fload­ing as­sets, No­var­tis is con­tact­ing po­ten­tial buy­ers for some oph­thal­mol­o­gy as­sets, Bloomberg re­port­ed Tues­day, cit­ing peo­ple with knowl­edge of the mat­ter.

No­var­tis is work­ing with an ad­vi­sor to of­fload front-of-eye treat­ments like its dry eye drug Xi­idra, which was ap­proved in 2016 in the US but failed to get ap­proval in Eu­rope. Noth­ing is set in stone — No­var­tis could still de­cide to keep the as­sets, Bloomberg re­port­ed, and not all are in­clud­ed in a po­ten­tial sale. For ex­am­ple, Lu­cen­tis, a treat­ment for wet age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, isn’t up for grabs.

Both pri­vate eq­ui­ty and strate­gic bid­ders are ex­pect­ed to be in­ter­est­ed. Ac­cord­ing to No­var­tis’ web­site, it has 21 oph­thal­mol­o­gy prod­ucts.

A spokesper­son for No­var­tis told End­points News that the com­pa­ny doesn’t com­ment on “mar­ket ru­mors or spec­u­la­tion.”

“No­var­tis con­tin­u­al­ly as­sess[es] op­por­tu­ni­ties with­in our port­fo­lio to en­sure we are ad­vanc­ing on­ly the high­est val­ue med­i­cines that can help dri­ve its growth strat­e­gy as a ‘pure play’ in­no­v­a­tive med­i­cines com­pa­ny,” the state­ment con­tin­ues. “As part of this strate­gic ap­proach, No­var­tis has iden­ti­fied five pri­or­i­ty ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas (TAs). While Oph­thal­mol­o­gy is not one of these pri­or­i­ty TAs, No­var­tis re­mains com­mit­ted to the dis­ease area with both in-mar­ket prod­ucts and break­through tech­nolo­gies be­ing pur­sued in re­search and de­vel­op­ment.”

No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan re­vealed plans to re­struc­ture the com­pa­ny in April 2022 to achieve $1 bil­lion-plus in cost sav­ings. Over the past year, that has come in the form of of­fload­ing drugs, lay­offs and com­bin­ing the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and on­col­o­gy busi­ness in­to one unit.

It was first re­port­ed in No­vem­ber of last year that No­var­tis was con­sid­er­ing the sale of some of its as­sets, such as its res­pi­ra­to­ry and oph­thal­mol­o­gy units, to raise funds to in­vest in oth­er med­i­cines. Its oph­thal­mol­o­gy unit first down­sized in 2019 with the spin­out of Al­con’s eye busi­ness.

In Jan­u­ary, the Basel-based phar­ma sold co­caine use dis­or­der drug can­di­date mavoglu­rant for up to $270 mil­lion to Stal­i­cla, a small Swiss biotech. The month be­fore that, plans were an­nounced to of­fload five of No­var­tis’ eye drugs to phar­ma com­pa­ny Har­row for $130 mil­lion up­front, with $45 mil­lion more if one of the drugs lands on the mar­ket.

Narasimhan al­so took a pay cut in 2022 based on his per­for­mance met­rics — last year he brought home 8.4 mil­lion Swiss francs ($9 mil­lion), which was a 25% de­crease from a year pri­or, when he col­lect­ed 11.2 mil­lion Swiss francs ($12 mil­lion).

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.

Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”