Debra Yu (LianBio)

UP­DAT­ED: Per­cep­tive's $310M US/Chi­na play woos new CEO from Eli Lil­ly's top-speed bam­lanivimab team

For any fledg­ling biotech, re­cruit­ing the right CEO is cru­cial. But it’s an es­pe­cial­ly tough find for the new gen­er­a­tion of cross-bor­der star­tups with glob­al am­bi­tions.

Yizhe Wang

Ide­al­ly, you want some­one who is ready to blaze a speedy path from clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment to launch and be well-equipped to man­age the prod­uct life cy­cle — which re­quires a lev­el of in­sid­er knowl­edge about how US and Eu­ro­pean com­pa­nies op­er­ate and how to nav­i­gate reg­u­la­to­ry and com­mer­cial­iza­tion land­scapes in Chi­na.

Lian­Bio had it in their found­ing CEO Bing Li. Weeks af­ter Li qui­et­ly left, the Per­cep­tive-found­ed com­pa­ny has hired his suc­ces­sor out of Eli Lil­ly.

Yizhe Wang spent the last year in In­di­anapo­lis as glob­al plat­form lead for an­ti-Covid ther­a­py at Lil­ly Re­search Lab, co­or­di­nat­ing dis­cov­ery, de­vel­op­ment and launch of bam­lanivimab. Be­fore that, he was with Lil­ly On­col­o­gy Chi­na in Shang­hai, where he first moved from Philadel­phia while work­ing for Glax­o­SmithK­line’s mar­ket­ing team.

All those years of ex­pe­ri­ence trans­lat­ed to “proven lead­er­ship guid­ing late-stage as­sets to mar­ket in Chi­na,” said ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and Per­cep­tive man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Kon­stan­tin Poukalov. The tran­si­tion was planned to fit with Lian­Bio’s next phase of growth, which in­volves sev­er­al Phase III tri­al ini­ti­a­tions over the next year and a half.

“Yizhe is some­one with trans­ac­tion­al ex­pe­ri­ence, de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, and im­por­tant­ly al­so com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence,” said De­bra Yu, Lian­Bio’s pres­i­dent and chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. She and Li were the first em­ploy­ees. “I think he launched like sev­en drugs in Chi­na do­ing NRDL ne­go­ti­a­tions. Over this whole time he’s over­seen the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of like 20 dif­fer­ent drugs.”

Bing Li

As Lian­Bio joins a small but grow­ing cadre of well-con­nect­ed play­ers scram­bling for cut­ting-edge late-stage drugs to bring to Chi­na, peo­ple with ré­sumés like Wang’s are in hot de­mand. Just days ago, Lon­nie Moul­der tapped Hua Mu to helm his im­munol­o­gy start­up, pry­ing a key found­ing ex­ec away from Over­land — Hill­house’s own US/Chi­na play. Ever­est Med­i­cines (which was found­ed by the CBC Group) land­ed an­oth­er Lil­ly vet, Ker­ry Blan­chard, for its top job.

The ba­sic in-li­cens­ing con­cept is not new. In fact, pi­o­neers like Zai Lab and BeiGene have pop­u­lar­ized the mod­el so much that com­pe­ti­tion for as­sets has in­ten­si­fied. It is against this back­ground that the next wave has cropped up — promis­ing even more re­sources, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment prowess, ne­go­ti­at­ing pow­er, clin­i­cal plans and rel­e­vant in­fra­struc­ture, of­ten not just with­in Chi­nese bor­ders but al­so in Asia more broad­ly.

The back­ing from Per­cep­tive and the “be­spoke” plans they ham­mer out for every as­set dri­ves much of what Lian­Bio does, Yu said. As a for­mer ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist and sea­soned deal­mak­er, she’s al­so sur­prised at how many more US biotechs are now will­ing, if not ea­ger, to pur­sue the Chi­na mar­ket.

“Every­one’s do­ing it a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent­ly,” she said, adding: “On one hand, yeah the best deals of course are com­pet­i­tive, but al­so the pool of avail­able, re­al­ly strong pro­grams, is in­creas­ing. And so as more play­ers come in, and the pool is big­ger, it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly dri­ving up the prices.”

Aside from as­sist­ing with the al­liance man­age­ment — in­clud­ing an un­con­ven­tion­al pact with Pfiz­er — Wang will be tasked with steer­ing drugs from those an­chor­ing part­ner­ships ahead, in­clud­ing mava­camten from MyoKar­dia, in­fi­gra­tinib and BBP-398 from Bridge­Bio, sisuna­tovir from Re­Vi­ral, and TP-03 from Tar­sus.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Tempus Labs)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs from 2020.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

As the ink dries on CSL’s $11.7 billion Vifor buyout, the company posted a dip in profits, due in part to a drop in plasma donations amid the pandemic.

However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.

Blaise Coleman, Endo International CEO

En­do files for Chap­ter 11 as it looks to fin­ish off its opi­oid lit­i­ga­tion

Irish drugmaker Endo International is entering into bankruptcy as it faces the weight of serious litigation related to its involvement in the opioid epidemic in the US.

The company has filed Chapter 11 proceedings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, with the company expected to file recognition proceedings in Canada, the UK and Australia. The company’s bankruptcy filing showed the company had assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.