Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Now reimag­in­ing home, of­fice sched­ules: No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan sees a new nor­mal in the post-Covid era

Bioreg­num Opin­ion Col­umn by John Car­roll

It’s not just small biotechs that are look­ing to com­plete­ly reeval­u­ate their need for of­fice space in a post-Covid world. It turns out No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan is al­so reimag­in­ing the Big Phar­ma foot­print in the com­mer­cial re­al es­tate world.

“We’ve all learned from the pan­dem­ic that we can work from home and work from the of­fice, and it will al­ways be a com­bi­na­tion go­ing for­ward,” Narasimhan told Bloomberg Tele­vi­sion in an in­ter­view.

One of the key ad­van­tages, he notes, is an abil­i­ty to spread the com­pa­ny net wider in draw­ing in new staffers, with re­mote and hy­brid at-home/in-of­fice sched­ules of­fer­ing the kind of flex­i­bil­i­ty more peo­ple will find at­trac­tive.

No­var­tis had 105,794 world­wide staffers at last count, and giv­en the steady mi­gra­tion of ex­ecs in­to biotech, one could imag­ine the HR group faces some heavy hir­ing de­mands.

Narasimhan is in per­fect sync with the biotech world, where Covid in­spired an ini­tial aban­don­ment of the of­fice. Lab work­ers were quick to adopt new sched­ules to thin their pres­ence in any par­tic­u­lar shift. But every­one else has large­ly stayed at home and worked on Zoom — and many aren’t plan­ning on aban­don­ing the home of­fice any­time soon.

Among biotech CEOs, we heard loud and clear from our most re­cent End­points 100 sur­vey that the new norm would like­ly in­clude the same kind of flex home/of­fice sched­ule that’s be­com­ing the stan­dard at No­var­tis as well.

Not on­ly did pro­duc­tiv­i­ty not suf­fer, in many cas­es peo­ple got a lot more work done as the dai­ly com­mute be­came a short stroll from bed to the kitchen ta­ble and fre­quent work trips came to a halt.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Frank Pallone (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP Images)

House com­mit­tee seeks more from FDA on in­spec­tion back­log, when to restart work on for­eign sites

House Energy & Commerce committee leaders are raising fresh questions about the FDA’s ability to conduct foreign manufacturing site inspections and bring down its growing backlog.

“While we understand that the emergence of COVID-19 required the agency to suspend in-person inspection activities temporarily, we remain concerned that more than one year into the pandemic, the strategy for resuming all inspections and addressing the backlog of delayed inspections remains unclear,” E&C chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and a group of five other bipartisan leaders of the committee wrote to FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock.

Luciana Borio (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Bob Nelsen's ARCH adds FDA, biode­fense ex­per­tise with ap­point­ment of Lu­ciana Bo­rio

Once vetted by the Biden team to lead the FDA as commissioner, Luciana Borio is now compiling quite the résumé.

Borio has now been named a venture partner at Bob Nelsen’s ARCH Venture Partners, and Nelsen told Endpoints News, “She will be involved in projects across the portfolio, including ongoing projects in manufacturing, clinical trials, gene therapy and gene editing, cell therapy, and delivery. We are exploring multiple projects in infectious disease, and next generation manufacturing.”