Over 130 em­ploy­ees let go from Mer­ck KGaA R&D teams in Mass­a­chu­setts

A to­tal of 133 em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck KGaA’s EMD Serono di­vi­sion in Bil­ler­i­ca, MA, are los­ing their jobs as a re­sult of a re­cent re­struc­tur­ing, ac­cord­ing to the com­pa­ny.

Most of the af­fect­ed em­ploy­ees are from the lo­ca­tion’s dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment tech­nolo­gies op­er­a­tions, and a “small num­ber” were from re­search teams, ac­cord­ing to a com­pa­ny spokesper­son.

“Changes to the or­ga­ni­za­tion­al struc­ture of our Bil­ler­i­ca-based re­search team were re­cent­ly an­nounced as our R&D or­ga­ni­za­tion con­tin­ues its trans­for­ma­tion,” the com­pa­ny said. “We will keep our strong re­search unit foot­prints for neu­ro­science and im­munol­o­gy (N&I) and on­col­o­gy, fo­cus­ing on se­lect­ed bi­o­log­i­cal ar­eas and sci­en­tif­ic ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Fierce Biotech re­port­ed news of the job cuts ear­li­er to­day.

Signs of a po­ten­tial slim­ming of the com­pa­ny were de­scribed in an an­nounce­ment on Nov. 21, which said the com­pa­ny would fo­cus on “ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion” while in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Mer­ck KGaA, which is based out of Ger­many but op­er­ates its health­care unit in the US and Cana­da as EMD Serono, said at the time that it planned to dou­ble down on R&D pro­duc­tiv­i­ty with a goal of one new prod­uct or in­di­ca­tion every one and a half years on av­er­age in on­col­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy.

In its on­col­o­gy pipeline, its lead as­set is xev­ina­pant, a small mol­e­cule de­signed to tar­get squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma of the head and neck. It’s cur­rent­ly in two Phase III tri­als.

The com­pa­ny is al­so re­search­ing and test­ing can­di­dates for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases and lu­pus.

There have been lay­offs across the biotech and phar­ma in­dus­tries over the last few months. Most re­cent­ly, Atom­wise, an AI-fo­cused drug dis­cov­ery com­pa­ny, cut its head­count by 30% in De­cem­ber. Last week, Cyteir Ther­a­peu­tics let 70% of its staffers go af­ter it sus­pend­ed en­roll­ment for a Phase II tri­al test­ing its lead drug, CYT-0851, as a monother­a­py. And Bris­tol My­ers Squibb re­cent­ly let go of some R&D work­ers in New Jer­sey.

Teresa Graham, incoming Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO

In­com­ing Roche CEO builds out his top team, tap­ping Genen­tech vet to lead phar­ma di­vi­sion

Roche announced another leadership shuffle Thursday morning – the head of global product strategy, Teresa Graham, will take over as CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals in March while the company’s corporate executive committee will make a spot for Levi Garraway, CMO and executive VP of global product development.

Thomas Schinecker will take over the top spot as Roche group CEO in March, leaving his spot as head of diagnostics.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

John Roberts, exiting Vyant Bio CEO

Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech Vyant warns of po­ten­tial wind-down

The CEO and chief scientific officer of Vyant Bio are out the door as the little-known but publicly-listed neurodegenerative biotech searches for an exit or, if all else fails, a wind-down.

The soul-searching bookends a winding journey for the biotech, which rebranded and transitioned from diagnostics company Cancer Genetics in 2021 after a merger with StemoniX. That came after a failed merger attempt with NovellusDx (now Fore Biotherapeutics) in 2018. In the last few years, units have been sold off and the stock price $VYNT has plummeted from the $30 range to penny stock territory.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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Medicago's vaccine greenhouse (Medicago via YouTube)

Cana­di­an plant-based vac­cine de­vel­op­er Med­ica­go shut­ters months af­ter lay­offs

Plant-based Covid-19 vaccine developer Medicago shut down this week with little fanfare. And its two subsidiaries, Medicago R&D and Medicago USA, are also closing their doors, according to a company news release.

The lone shareholder left standing, Japan-based Mitsubishi Chemical Group, “has determined not to make further investments in Medicago and to proceed with an orderly wind-up of its business and operations in Canada and in the United States.”

Af­ter 13 years, Ramy Mah­moud steps in­to CEO seat at Opti­nose; Ru­pert Vessey set to ex­it Bris­tol My­ers in Ju­ly

After 13 years as president and COO at Optinose, Ramy Mahmoud has stepped into a new role as its CEO. He is taking the place of Peter Miller, who stepped down earlier this week, though Miller is still staying with the company as a consultant.

In 2010, the two business partners joined Optinose to take it in a new direction, transforming it from a delivery platform to product company. They previously worked together at Johnson & Johnson, when Miller was president at Janssen and Mahmoud headed medical affairs. Miller said after he learned about Optinose, “I did what I always do, which is find people smarter than me to talk with about the idea. And the first person I called was Ramy … and I said, ‘Hey, Ramy, what do you think of this technology?’”

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Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

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Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.