No­var­tis’ re­cent­ly de­part­ed on­col­o­gy R&D chief is head­ed back to Dana-Far­ber and a new job in can­cer re­search

Bill Sell­ers

The re­volv­ing door at No­var­tis has spit out an­oth­er top ex­ec­u­tive, on­ly this one is head­ed back to a fac­ul­ty post at Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute and Har­vard Med­ical School.

William Sell­ers had been in charge of on­col­o­gy re­search at No­var­tis be­fore he an­nounced his “re­tire­ment” ear­li­er this year. But his 11-year stint at the No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bio­Med­ical Re­search was not his fi­nal turn at bat in drug re­search. His new fac­ul­ty post in­cludes re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a se­nior ad­vis­er on ex­per­i­men­tal meds. And he’ll still be di­rect­ly en­gaged on ear­ly-stage drug de­vel­op­ment at Dana-Far­ber, where he’ll help guide a spec­trum of work that runs from tar­get val­i­da­tion to ear­ly hu­man stud­ies.

His re­turn to aca­d­e­m­ic R&D cir­cles — which in­cludes a po­si­tion with The Broad In­sti­tute — comes at a time of tur­moil for No­var­tis, which has seen a large num­ber of se­nior ex­ecs leave this year. And that’s been not­ed with con­cern by some of the an­a­lysts fol­low­ing the phar­ma gi­ant.

“Over the years, the com­pa­ny has been like a re­volv­ing door when it comes to se­nior man­agers de­part­ing — be­low the CEO lev­el, that is,” wrote Tim An­der­son, a Bern­stein an­a­lyst quot­ed by Reuters. “We have won­dered if this has con­tributed to pe­ri­od­ic short­falls at the com­pa­ny, be­cause of a lack of con­ti­nu­ity.”

While the Cam­bridge/Boston hub is get­ting back a top aca­d­e­m­ic re­searcher, it’s al­so been a source of tal­ent for Big Phar­ma in gen­er­al, and No­var­tis in par­tic­u­lar. Jay Brad­ner left his post as a physi­cian-sci­en­tist at Dana-Far­ber to take the reins at NI­BR last fall.

Sell­ers built a rep­u­ta­tion for his ear­ly work in can­cer genome se­quenc­ing at Dana-Far­ber, which helped him in his work study­ing mol­e­c­u­lar path­ways of can­cer at No­var­tis. And he plans to stay fo­cused on on­col­o­gy in his new fac­ul­ty po­si­tion.

“Bill Sell­ers is one of the ear­ly pi­o­neers in the ap­pli­ca­tion of sys­tem­at­ic genome analy­sis to can­cer and was in­volved in the ear­ly days of the Broad,” said Broad In­sti­tute found­ing di­rec­tor Er­ic Lan­der. “As a fac­ul­ty mem­ber, his re­search will con­tin­ue to help ad­vance our un­der­stand­ing of the mech­a­nisms of can­cer and how best to tar­get them for bet­ter di­ag­nos­tics and treat­ment.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”

EMA signs off on 3 drugs re­cent­ly re­ject­ed by FDA, in­clud­ing Bio­Mar­in's new he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py

The EMA’s human medicines committee on Friday recommended three new drugs for approval or conditional approval, even as their US counterparts have rejected these three for various reasons.

In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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