David MacNaughtan (Sagard Holdings)

Roy­al­ty Phar­ma gets more com­pe­ti­tion as a pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm launch­es $725M roy­al­ty-buy­ing fund

Pablo’s got some peers.

Twen­ty-five years af­ter Mex­i­can bil­lion­aire Pablo Legor­re­ta start­ed buy­ing up fu­ture roy­al­ties on ap­proved drugs — and eight months af­ter he turned that in­to a record-set­ting $2.2 bil­lion IPO for Roy­al­ty Phar­ma— an­oth­er firm is rais­ing large sums to do the same thing. Sagard Hold­ings, the Cana­di­an in­vest­ment firm, raised $725 mil­lion for a new fund, known as Sagard Health­care Roy­al­ty Part­ners, that will pur­chase roy­al­ties in drugs, di­ag­nos­tics and med­ical prod­ucts.

Sagard joins a small clutch of well-heeled in­vest­ment firms that have tried to fol­low on Legor­re­ta’s suc­cess. Last year, Black­stone dropped $2 bil­lion on Al­ny­lam for a chunk of stock and half their roy­al­ties on in­clisir­an, a No­var­tis drug that is ex­pect­ed to be a block­buster. Al­so in 2020, Health­care Roy­al­ty Part­ners raised a new $1.8 bil­lion fund for the same pur­pose. And the year be­fore, Or­biMed launched their third such pot, this one val­ued at $1.2 bil­lion.

The fund — led by David Mac­Naugh­tan, a long­time in­vestor who led busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Pal­adin Labs be­fore it was bought out by En­do — has al­ready dis­closed a cou­ple of its deals. In Au­gust, Athenex an­nounced that it had sold Sagard a small por­tion of its roy­al­ty rights to an oral ver­sion of the chemother­a­py pa­cli­tax­el for $50 mil­lion. The drug is now at the FDA un­der pri­or­i­ty re­view for metasta­t­ic breast can­cer.

The deal pro­vides an ex­am­ple of the ap­proach Mac­Naugh­tan will look to take in an in­creas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive space. Rather than the large deals Roy­al­ty Phar­ma has be­come fa­mous for — the firm fa­mous­ly spent $3.3 bil­lion for the Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis Foun­da­tion’s roy­al­ties on Ver­tex’s CF drugs — they will look to spend be­tween $25 mil­lion and $100 mil­lion.

“We are fo­cused on the small­er to mid-sized end of the mar­ket,” Mac­Naugh­tan told End­points News. “Where we would dif­fer from Roy­al­ty Phar­ma — they’re look­ing for bil­lion dol­lar trans­ac­tions.”

Part of that means deals with small­er com­pa­nies and drugs like Athenex and their oral chemother­a­py. But it al­so means go­ing af­ter drugs that have not yet been ap­proved, where the risk and re­ward is greater, and try­ing to find peo­ple and en­ti­ties up and down the drug de­vel­op­ment time­line — such as ear­ly aca­d­e­mics — who might hold roy­al­ties and might be will­ing to sell for a good deal.

There, they’ll be com­pet­ing di­rect­ly with Roy­al­ty Phar­ma, which does both. In par­tic­u­lar, Roy­al­ty has moved in­creas­ing­ly in­to un­ap­proved med­i­cines over the past few years and, in do­ing so, shown a will­ing­ness to ex­e­cute deals that be­gin to dip to­ward the range Sagard is tar­get­ing. Last month, they bought roy­al­ties for a de­pres­sion drug from Min­er­va Neu­ro­sciences for $60 mil­lion, with $95 mil­lion promised in mile­stones.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.