UP­DAT­ED: Shift to dig­i­tal leaves hun­dreds of Am­gen sales jobs on chop­ping block

The pan­dem­ic has led to “last­ing changes” in the way Am­gen does busi­ness, CEO Robert Brad­way said while open­ing the com­pa­ny’s year-end sales call on Tues­day. And as a re­sult of those changes, sev­er­al hun­dred US jobs are on the chop­ping block.

The cuts are ex­pect­ed to be­gin on April 2, and will pri­mar­i­ly af­fect the US sales force, Am­gen con­firmed via email. The moves po­si­tion the com­pa­ny to make ad­di­tion­al in­vest­ments in prod­uct launch­es and R&D, a spokesper­son said.

“We made these changes to bet­ter en­able Am­gen to make ad­di­tion­al in­vest­ments we be­lieve are need­ed to take ad­van­tage of pa­tient-fo­cused op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing launch­ing new prod­ucts, and in­vest­ing in R&D,” a state­ment read. “These de­ci­sions are nev­er easy, and we are com­mit­ted to help­ing those im­pact­ed with tran­si­tion­al sup­port.”

SVB Leerink’s Ge­of­frey Porges brought the top­ic of com­mer­cial re­duc­tions dur­ing the Q&A por­tion of Tues­day’s call, ask­ing how they would play out in a “post-Covid world.”

“Wouldn’t you ex­pect to have to ramp back up once we elim­i­nate so­cial dis­tanc­ing?” he asked.

Mur­do Gor­don, EVP of glob­al com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions, said “a cou­ple of fac­tors” went in­to the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing the piv­ot to prod­uct launch­es and a shift to dig­i­tal that he be­lieves will per­sist be­yond the pan­dem­ic.

“What we’re do­ing is look­ing at our over­all com­mer­cial mod­el, and… mak­ing it more pro­duc­tive and mak­ing it more ef­fi­cient,” Gor­don replied.

“It’s that per­sis­ten­cy that we’re bet­ting on. What we haven’t done is com­pro­mised the abil­i­ty to have com­pet­i­tive share of voice in our field fac­ing in­ter­ac­tions both on the med­ical side (and) on the com­mer­cial side in front of the cus­tomer,” he added lat­er.

De­spite the US cut­backs, the com­pa­ny is plac­ing “large in­vest­ments” in the field force in Japan, Chi­na and Rus­sia, Gor­don said.

For the full year, Am­gen re­port­ed a rev­enue in­crease of 9% to $25.4 bil­lion —though not­ed that the growth was par­tial­ly off­set by low­er net sell­ing prices and the pan­dem­ic. An­a­lysts ze­roed in on Am­gen’s “break­through” KRAS G12C drug so­tora­sib, which got at­ten­tion last week when the biotech un­veiled a round of da­ta from a piv­otal study in non-small cell lung can­cer. They al­so took note of Am­gen’s asth­ma drug teze­pelum­ab, which is ex­pect­ed to go be­fore reg­u­la­tors in the first half of this year.

“We are big be­liev­ers in both of these ther­a­pies as so­tora­sib should have a rapid launch giv­en the un­met need and 6-12 months lead to mar­ket over Mi­rati’s ada­gra­sib,” Cowen’s Yaron Wer­ber and Bren­dan Smith said in a note to in­vestors.

“Am­gen’s ear­ly stage pipeline, how­ev­er, con­tin­ues to be slug­gish. In par­tic­u­lar, the BiTE pro­gram needs val­i­da­tion amid on­go­ing set­backs – now in­clud­ing the en­roll­ment pause for AMG 701 (BC­MA for RRMM), stop­ping Ph1 for AMG 596 (EGFR vI­II for glioblas­toma), on­go­ing chal­lenges to the CD33 pro­grams for AML, and slow progress with MCL 1.”

Porges wrote that he be­lieves ex­pec­ta­tions for so­tora­sib and teze­pelum­ab are “large­ly priced in, and there are on­ly so many ques­tions an­a­lysts can ask about com­bi­na­tion strate­gies and sec­ondary tu­mor tri­al time­lines.”

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

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Ap­peals court puts the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin for Tec­fidera patent, adding to Bio­gen's bur­geon­ing set­backs

In another setback for Biogen, the big biotech lost its appeal to revive a patent for the once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, marking a likely conclusion to the case.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the ruling Tuesday morning, saying Biogen failed to satisfy the “written description” requirement for patent law. As a result, Mylan-turned-Viatris will be able to sell its multiple sclerosis generic without fear of infringement and Biogen will have to find a new revenue driver elsewhere.

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Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

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In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Ab­b­Vie’s Hu­mi­ra TV turns fo­cus to HS skin con­di­tion; Sanofi amps par­ent­ing pol­i­cy

After years as the top spending pharma TV advertiser, AbbVie’s Humira brand finally downshifted earlier this year, ceding much of its marketing budget to up-and-coming sibling meds Skyrizi and Rinvoq. However, now Humira is back on TV with ads for another condition — Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).

The chronic and painful skin condition results in lumps and abscesses caused by inflammation or infection of sweat glands, most often in the armpits or groin. Humira was first approved to treat HS in 2015 and remains the only FDA-approved drug for the condition. Two TV ads both note more than 30,000 people with HS have been prescribed Humira.

Viatris employees rang the Nasdaq bell on Nov. 16, marking the one-year anniversary of the merged Mylan and Pfizer Upjohn company

Start­ing from scratch: Vi­a­tris’ new brand, cul­ture set­tle in 1 year af­ter My­lan, Up­john merg­er

When Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn unit merged last year, headlines touted the $12 billion deal and newly named Viatris as the largest generic drugmaker in the world. But that’s not exactly how the company wanted to be known.

So Viatris — which rhymes with Beatrice — began working to create a new brand and culture from scratch around its distinct mix of old pharma blockbusters while layering in a massive portfolio of generic and OTC meds and building up a fresh pipeline of biosimilars.

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Jeff Dachis, founder and CEO, One Drop

Q&A: One Drop founder Jeff Dachis, from dig­i­tal agency to healthtech en­tre­pre­neur, catch­es the wave again

Jeff Dachis knows how to pick a business wave — although it may be more accurate to say he knows how to create them. The founder and CEO of digital health platform One Drop is working to transform the industry with predictive analytics and sophisticated tools. Alongside partner Bayer, which has now invested enough to own a third of the company, Dachis and One Drop are advancing data-driven personalized self-care for chronic disease management.

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Tillman Gerngross (Adagio)

Till­man Gern­gross on Omi­cron: 'It is a grim sit­u­a­tion...we’re go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy'

Tillman Gerngross, the rarely shy Dartmouth professor, biotech entrepreneur and antibody expert, has been warning for over a year that the virus behind Covid-19 would likely continue to mutate, potentially in ways that avoid immunity from infection and the best defenses scientists developed. He spun out a company, Adagio, to build a universal antibody, one that could snuff out any potential mutation.

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