Gary Glick (Scorpion Therapeutics)

UP­DAT­ED: Se­r­i­al en­tre­pre­neur Gary Glick sells an­oth­er one of his star­tups for $229M — this time to an un­like­ly buy­er

Gary Glick has proven him­self, time and again, a nifty start­up artist. Af­ter sell­ing Lyc­era to Cel­gene, he held a streak for IFM Ther­a­peu­tics — carv­ing a plate of in­flam­ma­tion pro­grams each time and turn­ing the re­sult­ing sub­sidiary over to Big Phar­ma, while keep­ing the core dis­cov­ery unit — and more re­cent­ly lined up $270 mil­lion for pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy work at Scor­pi­on.

James Sapirstein

His lat­est deal, though, looks a bit dif­fer­ent.

Glick has sold First Wave Bio to Azur­Rx, a pen­ny stock biotech un­til a re­verse stock split on Fri­day pushed shares $AZRX back up. The stock has since slid down 11.76% to $4.81. The ma­jor­i­ty of the $229 mil­lion deal is in stock — with on­ly $18 mil­lion in cash — and as a re­sult, he will hand over the name, as­sets and con­trol to Azur­Rx CEO James Sapirstein.

Still, it ap­pears to be a good enough deal for Glick. The on­ly Form D First Wave has filed, dat­ed 2018, shows it set out to raise at most $5 mil­lion and had sold at least $2.6 mil­lion worth of eq­ui­ty pri­vate­ly.

First Wave was start­ed around the same time as IFM, Glick told End­points News, based on his old­er aca­d­e­m­ic work on im­mune me­tab­o­lism.

“So the com­pa­ny, un­like the oth­er com­pa­nies I start­ed, was not ven­ture-backed,” he said. “This is a com­pa­ny that was some­what self-fi­nanced with the group of in­di­vid­u­als who have helped start all of my com­pa­nies, and the goal was to run a very lean op­er­a­tion, very fo­cused op­er­a­tion, vir­tu­al­ly. There were nev­er any em­ploy­ees in the com­pa­ny, there were a few of us that con­sult­ed for the com­pa­ny and (got) eq­ui­ty as well.”

At the heart of the re­verse merg­er are the new for­mu­la­tions that First Wave has de­vised for niclosamide, an an­tipar­a­sitic drug ap­proved by the FDA to treat tape­worm in­fes­ta­tions. These small mol­e­cule for­mu­la­tions are gut-re­strict­ed, open­ing up a range of ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease — and they had some pos­i­tive clin­i­cal re­sults to back it up.

That caught the at­ten­tion of Azur­Rx, which spe­cial­izes in tar­get­ed, non-sys­temic ther­a­pies for gas­troin­testi­nal dis­eases.

“We have been talk­ing to First Wave for a very long time,” said Sapirstein, who not­ed he’s known Glick since their col­lege days.

Then came the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, and sci­en­tif­ic find­ings out of Ko­rea that niclosamide — a wide­ly avail­able drug list­ed by the WHO as an es­sen­tial med­i­cine — may be a “game chang­er” as an an­tivi­ral. The serendip­i­tous de­vel­op­ment meant the val­ue of First Wave’s pro­grams bal­looned so much that Azur­Rx couldn’t quite af­ford the deal it was orig­i­nal­ly en­vi­sion­ing.

So this Jan­u­ary, the com­pa­nies set­tled for a li­cens­ing deal around two in­di­ca­tions: Covid-19 re­lat­ed GI in­fec­tions and im­mune check­point in­hibitor-as­so­ci­at­ed col­i­tis and di­ar­rhea in ad­vanced stage can­cer pa­tients.

James Pen­ning­ton

Four months in­to the Covid-19 study, Azur­Rx made the de­ci­sion to just snap it all up — and change its name to First Wave. Its pipeline will now ex­pand to in­clude three clin­i­cal IBD in­di­ca­tions in ul­cer­a­tive proc­ti­tis and ul­cer­a­tive proc­tosig­moidi­tis, ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis and Crohn’s dis­ease.

“There is a wealth of clin­i­cal da­ta that sup­ports the an­tivi­ral and an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry ca­pa­bil­i­ties of niclosamide,” said James Pen­ning­ton, Azur­Rx CMO. “More re­cent­ly, da­ta gen­er­at­ed by First Wave Bio in ul­cer­a­tive proc­ti­tis sup­port­ed the broad­er po­ten­tial for niclosamide in mul­ti­ple in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­eases where we be­lieve our niclosamide for­mu­la­tions could of­fer sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages over oth­er cur­rent­ly avail­able treat­ments in­clud­ing steroids, 5-ASAs, and bi­o­log­ics – es­pe­cial­ly in the mild-to-mod­er­ate dis­ease stage.”

Sapirstein added that the new First Wave will al­so in­her­it the old First Wave’s man­u­fac­tur­ing process and set­up, al­low­ing for quick scale up.

Oth­er than niclosamide, First Wave will keep Azur­Rx’s lead Phase IIb pro­gram, MS1819, a po­ten­tial treat­ment for se­vere ex­ocrine pan­cre­at­ic in­suf­fi­cien­cy in pa­tients with cys­tic fi­bro­sis.

For Glick, the sale al­lows him to fo­cus on oth­er ven­tures — and the next big thing he’s work­ing on.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: This sto­ry has been up­dat­ed to add com­ments by Gary Glick.

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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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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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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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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(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

Bristol Myers Squibb (Alamy)

CVS re­sumes cov­er­age of block­buster blood thin­ner af­ter price drop fol­lows Jan­u­ary ex­clu­sion

Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.

“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”

#Can­nes­Lions2022: Con­sumer health ex­ecs call on agen­cies to in­volve pa­tients in cre­ative process

CANNES — When Tamara Rogers joined GSK back in 2018, “science was king and R&D were the gods.” Now the global chief marketing officer of consumer healthcare wants to make room for another supreme being: the consumer.

As health and wellness becomes more relevant to consumers amid the pandemic, four health-focused executives called on marketers to involve patients in their creative process in a panel discussion at the Cannes Lions advertising creativity festival.

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