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.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; 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.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

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No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

John Oyler, BeiGene CEO (Paul Yeung/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bris­tol My­ers wants to pull out of its Abrax­ane deal in Chi­na. BeiGene says no way

A year and a half after Chinese officials ordered BeiGene to stop selling Bristol Myers Squibb’s Abraxane in the wake of an alarming inspection of a US facility, the manufacturing issues at the root of the import suspension still appear unresolved.

And Bristol Myers wants to axe the Abraxane supply deal altogether.

But BeiGene, which is currently in arbitration proceedings against its Big Pharma partner, won’t let it off the hook so easily.

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FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Madhu Natarajan, Takeda rare disease development head

Drawn to the idea of turn­ing B cells in­to 'pro­tein fac­to­ries,' Take­da jumps in­to a mile­stone-heavy, $900M pact

Madhu Natarajan can trace his fascination with the idea of taking B cells and turning them into protein factories back 20 years, when he had his own lab at UT Southwestern. So when Natarajan, now the rare disease development head for Takeda, sat down for a meet-up with execs from Seattle-based Immusoft at the last in-person JP Morgan conference, they went straight into a brainstorming session.

“That B cells can take up residence and do what they do for a long time,” says Natarajan, pumping out proteins and “leveraging it into a therapeutic context,” hits his sweet spot for discovery deals. And he was deeply impressed by what he heard.

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