Ra­maswamy’s Der­ma­vant bags GSK’s PhI­II-ready pso­ri­a­sis drug in $330M deal — eye­ing a ma­jor league con­test

Vivek Ra­maswamy got start­ed in biotech pay­ing a pit­tance for a failed Alzheimer’s drug at Glax­o­SmithK­line — which flopped mis­er­ably in Phase III. Now one of his biotech com­pa­nies is go­ing back to GSK for a new drug to put in the late-stage pipeline, but the pen­ny ante game is over.

Jack­ie Fouse

Der­ma­vant, helmed by Cel­gene vet Jack­ie Fouse, has inked a $330 mil­lion deal to buy the Phase III-ready tap­inarof (GSK2894512), with close to $200 mil­lion of that com­ing in an up­front pay­ment. The drug has scored pos­i­tive Phase II da­ta, putting it in­to the line­up of ex­per­i­men­tal drugs fol­low­ing Dupix­ent from Sanofi and Re­gen­eron. And that will set the bar for suc­cess in pso­ri­a­sis and atopic der­mati­tis at a very high lev­el.

The deal marks the lat­est move by Glax­o­SmithK­line chief Em­ma Walm­s­ley in re­vamp­ing the pipeline in an­tic­i­pa­tion of an evolv­ing strate­gic shift un­der new R&D boss Hal Bar­ron, which will in­clude a much big­ger fo­cus on late-stage on­col­o­gy pro­grams.

John Lep­ore

Not­ed GSK SVP John Lep­ore:

We have tak­en a strate­gic de­ci­sion to di­vest or part­ner med­i­cines in our R&D port­fo­lio that are a bet­ter fit for oth­er com­pa­nies al­low­ing us to con­cen­trate our re­sources on oth­er promis­ing as­sets.

If they’re suc­cess­ful, Der­ma­vant will be up against some big league ri­vals. But is it good enough?

The non­s­teroidal an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry top­i­cal cream— which ac­ti­vates the aryl hy­dro­car­bon re­cep­tor — hasn’t been a high-pro­file agent. But re­searchers have high­light­ed promis­ing da­ta to un­der­score its po­ten­tial.

The deal comes a year af­ter Roche out­li­censed a dis­ap­point­ing le­brik­izum­ab to Der­mi­ra.

It al­so fol­lows some big moves at Ra­maswamy’s Roivant com­pa­nies, which has been re­or­ga­nized in the wake of the Ax­o­vant fail­ures. The changes, though, haven’t changed Ra­maswamy’s in­ten­tion of build­ing a ma­jor play­er with many dif­fer­ent arms grap­pling with a wide va­ri­ety of dis­eases. 

Un­lock­ing ESG strate­gies for growth with Gilead Sci­ences

RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

Andrew Schiermeier, Intellia

Black­stone throws $250M be­hind In­tel­lia-Cellex quest to com­bine CRISPR and con­trol­lable CAR-Ts

So here’s how Blackstone is spending its $4.6 billion biopharma pot.

The private equity firm announced Tuesday they were teaming with the CRISPR biotech Intellia and the little-known German CAR-T startup GEMoaB to launch a new — and so far unnamed — CAR-T company. Blackstone, the sole investor, will pour $250 million into the joint venture and take a third ownership. Intellia and Cellex, GEMoaB’s parent company, will each take another third.

Con­sor­tium of 5 drug reg­u­la­tors plot path to in­crease har­mo­niza­tion through 2024

A group of drug regulators from Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK on Tuesday unveiled their strategic plans for the next three years, laying out how they’ll work together on reviewing new drugs to reduce duplication across borders.

While understanding that the biopharma industry is truly global, the group, known collectively as the Access Consortium, seeks to better align their respective regulatory and policy approaches for pharmaceuticals, with an aim to facilitate faster access to high quality, safe and effective health products.

On the hunt for the next Mod­er­na, in­vestors have pumped 'plat­form plays' with cash. Can any­thing slow the run­away train?

It didn’t take an expert to see that mRNA platforms could be huge.

Julie Sunderland partnered with both Moderna and BioNTech about a decade ago while she was running program-related investments for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — and even then the potential for their platforms was obvious despite some well-founded concerns about whether the next-gen tech would ever cross the finish line.

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

Mer­ck­'s Keytru­da blazes a path in first-line cer­vi­cal can­cer, mak­ing good on drug­mak­er's push for ear­li­er pa­tients

In the years since I/O wonder drug Keytruda’s initial approval, Merck has struck an aggressive clinical trial program, which is now firmly focused on earlier lines of therapy. The drugmaker has scored some success there so far, and now it’s earned one of its biggest wins yet.

Keytruda plus chemotherapy with or without background Avastin significantly extended patients’ lives over those dosed with a placebo control in first-line patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, according to top-line data from the Phase III KEYNOTE-826 study revealed Tuesday.

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Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Credit: Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Ac­tivist in­vestor El­liott in talks with oth­er Glax­o­SmithK­line in­vestors about re­plac­ing Em­ma Walm­s­ley, spin­ning off vac­cine busi­ness — re­port

As Emma Walmsley reveals details this Wednesday about the upcoming split of GlaxoSmithKline’s pharma and consumer units, some tough questions may be coming her way.

Elliott Management, the activist investor that’s previously threatened an attack on GSK (but eventually backed off), is floating more radical changes like replacing the CEO, further breaking up the company and spinning out the vaccine unit, or reviewing the focus on cancer drugs, the Financial Times reported.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) with reporters in the Senate Subway (Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)

Top Wyden pri­or­i­ty for drug price re­forms: Medicare ne­go­ti­a­tions

As the Biden administration tries to wrangle the details of its infrastructure bill, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) took a concrete step forward on drug pricing reforms on Tuesday and unveiled five principles for such reforms, including providing Medicare with the ability to negotiate prices.

“Allowing the Secretary of HHS to negotiate the price Medicare will pay creates a much needed mechanism to achieve fairer prices when the market has failed to do so,” Wyden wrote.

End­points News is now 5 years old. Here's how you can sup­port us for the next phase of growth

Endpoints News turned five years old over the weekend. I wanted to mark the happy occasion by extending our deepest gratitude to Endpoints’ premium subscribers while outlining several other ways to support us as we go broader and get bigger this year and beyond.

Same as any business, we’ve got to create value and get paid for delivering it. So if you depend on Endpoints to stay abreast on biopharma developments, we depend on you too.

Fred Upton and Diana DeGette

New DARPA-like NIH agency preps for re­al­i­ty as E&C un­veils bi­par­ti­san Cures 2.0 draft bill

House Energy & Commerce leaders Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) on Tuesday released new draft legislation with wide-ranging implications for public health, the FDA, NIH, and that would create a new, $6.5 billion federal advanced research agency under NIH, with an aim to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other difficult diseases.

Similar to DARPA, the new NIH division to be known as ARPA-H, would be run by a small group of program managers with more latitude to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects that other government agencies would likely shy away from.

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