Oblit­er­at­ed by Alzheimer's fail­ure, Neu­rotrope re­lin­quish­es its Nas­daq spot in re­verse merg­er

Bat­tered af­ter a spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure with its Alzheimer’s drug can­di­date, Neu­rotrope Bio­sciences is be­ing ab­sorbed by a pri­vate­ly-held com­pa­ny that makes an erec­tile dys­func­tion (ED) treat­ment.

Sten­dra mak­er Metuchen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which was cen­sured by the FDA last year for mak­ing mis­lead­ing claims about its ED ther­a­py, is vault­ing on to the Nas­daq fol­low­ing the all-stock merg­er with Neu­rotrope, un­der a new name: Pet­ros (the Greek word for “rock”).

Pet­ros is set to be a men’s health com­pa­ny, with its flag­ship Sten­dra drug (which gen­er­at­ed rough­ly $30 mil­lion last year) as well as a pipeline that in­cludes a re­cent­ly in-li­censed prod­uct for Pey­ronie’s dis­ease, a non-can­cer­ous con­di­tion that emerges as a re­sult of fi­brous scar tis­sue that caus­es curved, painful erec­tions.

Un­der the deal, which has been ap­proved by both boards and is ex­pect­ed to close in the third quar­ter, Metuchen share­hold­ers (Jug­ger­naut Cap­i­tal Part­ners have the prin­ci­pal stake) will own the ma­jor­i­ty 80% of the com­bined com­pa­ny, while Neu­rotrope stake­hold­ers will have the re­main­der.

Charles Ryan

Once con­sum­mat­ed, Neu­rotrope’s CEO Charles Ryan is set to be­come Pet­ros’ chief and re­launch Sten­dra. Pet­ros will al­so have ac­cess to Neu­rotrope’s rough­ly $20 mil­lion in avail­able cash and cash equiv­a­lents, while Neu­rotrope’s set­back-marred neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion com­pound Bryo­statin-1, as­sets, and li­a­bil­i­ties will be spun out in­to a sep­a­rate­ly-trad­ed com­pa­ny.

Last Sep­tem­ber, the ex­per­i­men­tal drug failed to do bet­ter than the place­bo in a mid-stage study in­volv­ing mod­er­ate-to-se­vere Alzheimer’s pa­tients. In fact, the drug arm did a lit­tle worse than a sug­ar pill in the key study, mark­ing yet an­oth­er ex­am­ple of fail­ure in the ar­du­ous field of Alzheimer’s drug de­vel­op­ment. The com­pa­ny’s shares $NTRP cratered as a re­sult, hit­ting a low of $1.

How­ev­er, in Jan­u­ary, the com­pa­ny said a posthoc analy­sis of the study sug­gest­ed the drug could be res­ur­rect­ed for use in Alzheimer’s and un­veiled a $2.7 mil­lion grant from the NIH to take the pro­gram for­ward. The move de­light­ed, caus­ing the stock to more than dou­ble.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; and more

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Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; 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.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

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Peter Hecht, Cyclerion CEO

Cy­cle­ri­on board quick­ly nix­es CEO Pe­ter Hecht's un­ortho­dox pitch for low cash re­serves

It’s been less than two months since Cyclerion laid out a new R&D strategy around its lead drug in mitochondrial diseases, one that triggered the company to lay off close to half of its employees and explore licensing deals for the rest of the pipeline. But CEO Peter Hecht apparently has other plans in mind.

Hecht, who led Ironwood for close to 20 years before spinning out Cyclerion, disclosed in an SEC filing Monday that a “newly-formed private company” that he “may have or may acquire an interest” submitted a proposal to Cyclerion the day prior to purchase Cyclerion’s CNS assets, including CY6463 and CY3018 — the top two programs listed in the pipeline.

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Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Dermavant Sciences' first consumer TV ad for its Vtama psoriasis med shows people ready for a new topical treatment.

Roivant’s Der­ma­vant de­buts first-ever TV com­mer­cial for pso­ri­a­sis cream Vta­ma

Dermavant Sciences has been marketing its first product, psoriasis med Vtama, to dermatologists for months, but on Tuesday it rolled out its first consumer campaign. The debut DTC effort including a streaming TV commercial encourages patients to a “Topical Uprising” in a nod to Vtama being a topical cream.

In the new commercial, a swell of people discards scarves and jacket coverings, gathering in the street to converge on a pharmacy to demand a steroid-free prescription. A moment of levity follows when a pharmacist says, “You know you can just talk to your doctor, right?” The gathered crowds collectively says, “Oh.”

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