Debra Yu (LianBio)

Pfiz­er hands Lian­Bio $70M to tag along Per­cep­tive's Chi­na play, with an eye to beef­ing up re­gion­al port­fo­lio

When Per­cep­tive un­veiled its care­ful­ly cu­rat­ed syn­di­cate for Lian­Bio’s $310 mil­lion Se­ries A, Pfiz­er stood out as the on­ly phar­ma amid a mar­quee group of VCs. It turns out that the drug­mak­er wasn’t on­ly look­ing to share the fruits of Lian­Bio’s la­bor, it al­so wants to get down in­to the trench­es.

Pfiz­er has put an ad­di­tion­al $70 mil­lion on the ta­ble for Lian­Bio — which Per­cep­tive set out to shape in­to a “best-in-class sourc­ing and de­vel­op­ment en­gine” in Chi­na — to in-li­cense pro­grams that they can then co-de­vel­op. If a drug reach­es the mar­ket, Pfiz­er will be first in line to ne­go­ti­ate for stand­alone com­mer­cial deals.

Kon­stan­tin Poukalov

Hav­ing just re­cent­ly signed off on a $480 mil­lion col­lab­o­ra­tion to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize CStone’s PD-1 in Chi­na, Doug Gior­dano, SVP of Pfiz­er world­wide busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, said the new deal ex­pands its “abil­i­ty to part­ner across the biotech ecosys­tem” and de­liv­er med­ical break­throughs to Chi­nese pa­tients.

“We’ve heard this re­peat­ed­ly from Big Phar­mas over the years that they get pro­grams com­ing down from glob­al but there’s of­ten not as much em­pha­sis and lit­tle ac­tiv­i­ty at the re­gion­al lev­el for busi­ness de­vel­op­ment,” De­bra Yu, Lian­Bio’s pres­i­dent/CBO and a Pfiz­er alum, told End­points News.

For Lian­Bio, the al­liance doesn’t just of­fer heavy­weight en­dorse­ment of its mod­el but al­so a way to tap in­to com­mer­cial in­fra­struc­ture that Pfiz­er has built over a decade.

Kon­stan­tin Poukalov, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Per­cep­tive and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man at Lian­Bio, not­ed that the in-kind help that Pfiz­er has com­mit­ted might just be as im­por­tant as the cash. From clin­i­cal tri­al ex­per­tise — Pfiz­er has 60-plus stud­ies un­der­way in the coun­try — and KOL net­work to cre­at­ing mar­ket ac­cess and deal­ing with the re­im­burse­ment process, the phar­ma gi­ant brings sig­nif­i­cant knowl­edge and ca­pac­i­ty to the pact.

Bing Li

In par­tic­u­lar, he adds, Lian­Bio will be pre­sent­ing to Pfiz­er as­sets that re­quire a large, spread-out sales force to cov­er vast ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gions. As­sets that are more tar­get­ed around spe­cif­ic cen­ters of care are more like­ly to be han­dled by the 30-plus Lian­Bio staffers (they’re still re­cruit­ing) CEO Bing Li is lead­ing in Shang­hai and Bei­jing.

As Yu scouts new deals with her New Jer­sey-based team, she be­lieves hav­ing Pfiz­er on board would con­vince biotech part­ners that by li­cens­ing Chi­na rights to Lian­Bio they will get the “best of both worlds.”

“It’s a very spe­cial kind of be­spoke cre­ative part­ner­ship that ben­e­fits all the three par­ties that are in­volved,” she said.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, Lian’s pitch­es main­ly re­volved around de­tailed mar­ket analy­ses and tai­lor-made de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als that Bridge­Bio CEO Neil Ku­mar has praised as cre­ative. For $26.5 mil­lion in near-term pay­ments, he hand­ed over two tar­get­ed can­cer drug can­di­dates and gave away pref­er­en­tial fu­ture ac­cess to pro­grams across his sub­sidiaries’ port­fo­lio.

MyoKar­dia, mean­while, pro­vid­ed Lian with its first car­dio drug be­fore Bris­tol My­ers Squibb bought it for $13 bil­lion. Lian paid $40 mil­lion up­front for mava­camten and is on the hook for an­oth­er $147.5 mil­lion.

While Lian doesn’t en­vi­sion do­ing an­oth­er deal like the Pfiz­er one — elect­ing in­stead to pri­or­i­tize find­ing new drugs for its pipeline — Poukalov be­lieves oth­er phar­ma gi­ants are sim­i­lar­ly look­ing for ways to get their hands on drugs they may not oth­er­wise have ac­cess to.

“Just like you’ve seen in As­traZeneca’s case where they were able to do re­gion­al spe­cif­ic deals to dri­ve re­gion­al rev­enue, I think that’s top of mind for a lot of oth­er MNCs that are try­ing to evolve and re­al­ly kind of con­tin­ue to an­chor their po­si­tion in the mar­ket­place,” Poukalov said.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

Photo: Shutterstock

Bio­phar­ma's suc­cess rate in bring­ing drugs to mar­ket has long been abysmal. Can new tools help rewrite that trou­bled past?

In 2011, a team of researchers at British drugmaker AstraZeneca had a problem they were looking to solve.

For years, drug discovery and development were a wasteland for innovation. Novel drugs largely fell into one of two categories — monoclonal antibodies and small molecules — and new therapeutic modalities were hard to come by. After a rush of promising approvals in the late 1990s — including then-Biogen’s CD20 targeting antibody breakthrough Rituxan — the field stagnated and attrition rates stayed sky-high. What exactly is the industry doing wrong? AstraZeneca asked itself.

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