Ra­mona Se­queira to be­come PhRMA's first fe­male chair; McK­in­sey reach­es near­ly $574 mil­lion set­tle­ment over in­volve­ment in opi­oid cri­sis

PhRMA is get­ting its first fe­male board chair.

On Thurs­day, the trade as­so­ci­a­tion cel­e­brat­ed news that Ra­mona Se­queira, pres­i­dent of Take­da’s US busi­ness, has been named chair-elect. The for­mer board trea­sur­er is set to step up next year, leav­ing her role to No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan.

“Over the past year, the pub­lic has wit­nessed first-hand, the ben­e­fits of in­no­v­a­tive sci­ence as our in­dus­try quick­ly and safe­ly worked to­geth­er to ad­dress one of the great­est health care chal­lenges of our time,” Se­queira said in a state­ment. “Yet, there con­tin­ues to be op­por­tu­ni­ty to im­prove pub­lic per­cep­tion of our in­dus­try.”

Se­queira said build­ing trust across the in­dus­try is a key pri­or­i­ty, “es­pe­cial­ly among com­mu­ni­ties who con­tin­ue to feel the dis­par­i­ties and in­equities of our health care sys­tem.”

The Mc­Mas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty grad has been with Take­da since 2015, where she leads the US busi­ness unit and glob­al port­fo­lio com­mer­cial­iza­tion. Be­fore that, she spent sev­er­al years at Eli Lil­ly in com­mer­cial lead­er­ship and gen­er­al man­age­ment roles span­ning Cana­da, Eu­rope and the US.

Se­queira will re­place Eli Lil­ly CEO David Ricks, who as­sumed his role as board chair back in De­cem­ber.

McK­in­sey reach­es near­ly $574 mil­lion set­tle­ment over in­volve­ment in opi­oid cri­sis

McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny has agreed to pay near­ly $574 mil­lion to set­tle claims that it helped drug­mak­ers — in­clud­ing Oxy­Con­tin man­u­fac­tur­er Pur­due Phar­ma — ag­gres­sive­ly mar­ket opi­oid painkillers, spurring a dead­ly epi­dem­ic.

The set­tle­ment was reached with at­tor­neys gen­er­al from 47 states, five ter­ri­to­ries and DC. McK­in­sey still de­nies the al­le­ga­tions, and the set­tle­ment con­tains no ad­mis­sion of guilt.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, McK­in­sey sold mar­ket­ing ideas to Pur­due for more than 15 years, in­clud­ing be­fore and af­ter Pur­due’s 2007 guilty plea for felony mis­brand­ing. McK­in­sey al­leged­ly helped Pur­due de­vise plans to “tur­bocharge” sales un­der a strat­e­gy they called “Evolve 2 Ex­cel­lence,” which sig­nif­i­cant­ly in­creased Oxy­Con­tin sales, a doc­u­ment filed in Mass­a­chu­setts court states..

“Ear­ly in their re­la­tion­ship, McK­in­sey ad­vised Pur­due that it could in­crease Oxy­Con­tin sales through physi­cian tar­get­ing and spe­cif­ic mes­sag­ing to pre­scribers,” the doc­u­ment al­leges. “These McK­in­sey strate­gies formed the pil­lars of Pur­due’s sales tac­tics for the next fif­teen years.”

The set­tle­ment mon­ey will be used by the states to ad­dress the im­pact of the opi­oid epi­dem­ic. And McK­in­sey has reaf­firmed that it will no longer ad­vise clients on any opi­oid-re­lat­ed busi­ness any­where in the world.

“”We chose to re­solve this mat­ter in or­der to pro­vide fast, mean­ing­ful sup­port to com­mu­ni­ties across the Unit­ed States. We deeply re­gret that we did not ad­e­quate­ly ac­knowl­edge the trag­ic con­se­quences of the epi­dem­ic un­fold­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties. With this agree­ment, we hope to be part of the so­lu­tion to the opi­oid cri­sis in the U.S.,” McK­in­sey’s glob­al man­ag­ing part­ner Kevin Snead­er said in a state­ment.

Strides de­merges biotech busi­ness un­der Stelis 

Strides Phar­ma Sci­ence — a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny based in Ban­ga­lore, In­dia — is de­merg­ing its biotech busi­ness un­der Stelis Bio­phar­ma, it an­nounced on Thurs­day.

The board of di­rec­tors is form­ing a com­mit­tee to “ex­plore var­i­ous op­tions of val­ue dis­cov­ery,” in­clud­ing list­ing the busi­ness on a stand­alone ba­sis, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

For rea­son­ing, Strides said that Stelis has com­plet­ed its in­cu­ba­tion phase and is en­ter­ing a growth phase, for which it will need $100 mil­lion to fund pro­grams over the next three years.

“As Strides fo­cus­es on build­ing its Core Phar­ma busi­ness, it will not par­tic­i­pate in the new fund­ing round,” a state­ment read.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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David Loew (Ipsen)

Ipsen snags an ap­proved can­cer drug in $247M M&A deal as an­oth­er bat­tered biotech sells cheap

You can add Paris-based Ipsen to the list of discount buyers patrolling the penny stock pack for a cheap M&A deal.

The French biotech, which has had plenty of its own problems to grapple with, has swooped in to buy Epizyme $EPZM for $247 million in cash and a CVR with milestones attached to it. Epizyme shareholders, who had to suffer through a painfully soft launch of their EZH2a inhibitor cancer drug Tazverik, will get $1.45 per share along with a $1 CVR tied to achieving $250 million in sales from the drug over four consecutive quarters as well as an OK for second-line follicular lymphoma by 1 Jan. 2028.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”