Pascal Soriot, Getty

Pas­cal So­ri­ot and As­traZeneca com­mit to ze­ro-car­bon by 2025, car­bon-neu­tral by 2030. Where's the rest of Phar­ma?

Pas­cal So­ri­ot has spent more than 20 years at the top of an in­dus­try re­cent­ly found to emit more car­bon than the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

He called him­self a “glob­al cit­i­zen,” and trav­eled of­ten across three-plus con­ti­nents. While CEO of As­traZeneca, he com­mis­sioned a flight ser­vice — me­dia-dubbed As­traZeneca air­lines — from Cam­bridge to the com­pa­ny’s oth­er Eu­ro­pean hub in Gothen­burg. He made few, if any, pub­lic state­ments on the en­vi­ron­ment or his com­pa­nies’ im­pact on it.

Now, Pas­cal So­ri­ot has had a change of heart.

As­traZeneca yes­ter­day an­nounced a $1 bil­lion plan to elim­i­nate emis­sions by 2025 and to, by 2030, make their en­tire sup­ply chain car­bon-neg­a­tive. So­ri­ot said think­ing about his grand­kids con­vinced him to push the com­pa­ny to­wards sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

“I have chil­dren and I have a grand­son, and they’re go­ing to look at me and say, ‘what did you do?'” So­ri­ot told Bloomberg News from Davos, Switzer­land where the an­nu­al World Eco­nom­ic Fo­rum meet­ing is un­der­way. This year has been heav­i­ly fo­cused on cli­mate change.

As­traZeneca is not the first Big Phar­ma com­pa­ny to make such a com­mit­ment, al­though the in­dus­try as a whole has been slow to adopt such pledges. Take­da told a JP Mor­gan crowd last week that they were aim­ing to be car­bon-neu­tral in 2020. No­vo Nordisk said in April they were on track to use on­ly re­new­ables in 2020. No­var­tis al­so has a car­bon-neu­tral-by-2025 plan, al­though it doesn’t in­clude their sup­ply chain.

No­tably, none of the eight largest US phar­ma com­pa­nies — J&J, Pfiz­er, Mer­ck, Ab­b­Vie, Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Eli Lil­ly, Am­gen and Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb — have made sim­i­lar com­mit­ments, al­though al­most every­one has a ded­i­cat­ed por­tion of their web­site in which they “rec­og­nize,” “be­lieve,” or “un­der­stand,” the risks posed by cli­mate change and their re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to mit­i­gate that risk.

Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s com­mit­ment is to a 5% re­duc­tion in green­house gas emis­sions by 2020. Mer­ck, one of the more com­mit­ted phar­ma com­pa­nies, has promised to make all “ex­ter­nal” elec­tric­i­ty re­new­able, but not un­til 2040. Eli Lil­ly — far and away the worst emit­ter of any phar­ma com­pa­ny as of 2015, ac­cord­ing to the pa­per cit­ed at the top of the ar­ti­cle, ac­count­ing for near­ly 4-times the emis­sions of As­traZeneca — said they would make a 20% re­duc­tion by 2020. Through 2017, they were 8.4% of the way there. A fur­ther up­date promised for June of last year, could not be im­me­di­ate­ly found on their web­site.

As­traZeneca will make them­selves car­bon-neu­tral by con­vert­ing to all re­new­ables for heat and pow­er and by switch­ing over their ve­hi­cles to elec­tric cars, both with­in 5 years. They will al­so be­gin plant­i­ng the “AZ For­est” — a 50-mil­lion tree re­for­esta­tion ef­fort, first in Aus­tralia and then in France, In­done­sia and else­where.

They will al­so un­veil a new gen­er­a­tion of me­tered-dose in­halers. These com­mon forms of in­halers tra­di­tion­al­ly re­lease hy­dro­flu­o­roalka­ne, a high­ly po­tent green­house gas.

So­ri­ot told Bloomberg that, on top of his own con­scious­ness, em­ploy­ees had asked for the com­pa­ny to make a sweep­ing com­mit­ment. But he said one group hadn’t, and it’s part of the rea­son oth­er com­pa­nies have yet to elim­i­nate emis­sions: Share­hold­ers.

“The pres­sure is not – I be­lieve not – yet strong enough, to be frank,” So­ri­ot said. “Com­pa­nies will have to be in­cen­tivized to do some­thing.”

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Fireside chat between Hal Barron and John Carroll, UKBIO19

It’s time we talked about bio­phar­ma — live in Lon­don next week

Zoom can only go so far. And I think at this stage, we’ve all tested the limits of staying in touch — virtually. So I’m particularly happy now that we’ve revved up the travel machine to point myself to London for the first time in several years.

Whatever events we have lined up, we’ve always built in plenty of opportunities for all of us to get together and talk. For London, live, I plan to be right out front, meeting with and chatting with the small crowd of biopharma people we are hosting on October 12 at Silicon Valley Bank’s London headquarters. And there’s a lengthy mixer at the end I’m most looking forward to, with several networking openings between sessions.

Take­da to pull key hy­poparathy­roidism drug from the mar­ket af­ter years of man­u­fac­tur­ing woes

Takeda on Tuesday morning made an announcement that almost 3,000 people with the rare disease known as hypoparathyroidism were fearing.

Due to unresolved supply issues and manufacturing woes, Takeda said it will cut its losses and discontinue its hypoparathyroidism drug, known as Natpara (parathyroid hormone), halting all manufacturing of the drug by the end of 2024, but the entire inventory will be available until depleted or expired, a company spokesperson said via email.

Pfizer and BioNTech's original Marvel comic book links evolving Covid vaccine science to Avengers' evolving villain-fighting tools.(Source: Pfizer LinkedIn post)

Pfiz­er, BioN­Tech part­ner with Mar­vel for Avengers and Covid-fight­ing com­ic book

Pfizer and BioNTech are collaborating with Marvel to celebrate “everyday” people getting Covid-19 vaccines in a custom comic book.

In the “Everyday Heroes” digital comic book, an evolving Ultron, one of the Avengers’ leading villains, is defeated by Captain America, Ironman and others. The plotline and history of Ultron is explained by a grandfather who is waiting with his family at a clinic for Covid-19 vaccinations.

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Kaile Zagger, Infinant Health CEO

UC Davis mi­cro­bio­me spin­out re­brands in­fant sup­ple­ment busi­ness with na­ture fo­cus

When Kaile Zagger took the helm of UC Davis spinout Evolve Biosystems several months ago, the company billed itself as a probiotic maker.

However, she believes the company’s Evivo supplement designed to help infants develop a healthy gut microbiome is “so much more” — and that, she said, calls for a rebrand.

Evolve has, well, evolved into Infinant Health, the company announced on Monday. The new name is a mash-up of the words “infant” and “infinite,” representing the company’s goal of expanding beyond infant care. While its sole product, Evivo, is intended for newborns, Infinant is “quickly developing” an option for kids through the age of two.

FDA+ roundup: Ad­comm date set for Cy­to­ki­net­ics heart drug; New gener­ic drug guid­ance to re­duce fa­cil­i­ty de­lays

The FDA has set Dec. 13 as the day that its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will review Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug, setting up a key vote ahead of a Feb. 28, 2023 PDUFA date.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil, read out its first Phase III in November 2020, hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as the key to breaking into the market, failing to significantly differ in reducing cardiovascular death from placebo.

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Bob Azelby, Eliem Therapeutics CEO

Eliem says ear­li­er drug ex­po­sure is­sues have been re­solved, drops one epilep­sy in­di­ca­tion

After being forced to delay two Phase IIa trials and blaming CMC issues on a Phase Ib miss, Eliem Therapeutics believes it’s now in the clear.

The Seattle and UK-based biotech put out word Wednesday morning about how it conducted new early-stage studies to confirm why low exposure issues arose during the Phase Ib. After researchers compared the results of the studies, Eliem found “no meaningful difference” between them and ruled out CMC as the reason for the foiled Phase Ib study, the company said in a press release.

GSK touts topline win for PD-1 in head-to-head with Keytru­da — while steer­ing next big check­point drug in­to PhI­II

GSK is claiming a win for what it calls the largest head-to-head trial pitting a PD-1 against Merck’s best-selling Keytruda in a type of lung cancer, as its Jemperli met the primary endpoint of objective response rate.

In a separate positive move, GSK says it’s moving both arms of the COSTAR Lung trial into Phase III to test Jemperli as well as the TIM-3 inhibitor cobolimab.

Hesham Abdullah, GSK’s global head of oncology development, said in a statement that the two trials “support the ambition for dostarlimab to become the backbone of our ongoing immuno-oncology-based research and development programme when used alone and in combination with standard of care and future novel cancer therapies, particularly in patients with currently limited treatment options.”

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