Shire’s Orn­skov dic­tates an­oth­er big re­vamp, with R&D/HQ mov­ing in­to Cam­bridge

Shire CEO Flem­ming Orn­skov is once again re­or­ga­niz­ing the com­pa­ny, con­sol­i­dat­ing a large por­tion of the com­pa­ny’s R&D op­er­a­tions in the heart of the big Cam­bridge, MA hub.

Flem­ming Orn­skov

In a sto­ry bro­ken by the Boston Globe’s long­time biotech scribe Rob Weis­man, Orn­skov says he plans to move hun­dreds of re­searchers in­to the com­pa­ny’s new cam­pus in Kendall Square, which com­bines a new­ly ac­quired build­ing from Sanofi Gen­zyme with the R&D cen­ter picked up in its ac­qui­si­tion of Bax­al­ta.

Shire sent me an out­line of their plan to make Cam­bridge and Lex­ing­ton in­to two cen­tral hubs for the more than 3,000 staffers that work at the com­pa­ny in Mass­a­chu­setts. And it is mov­ing 100 R&D staffers from Aus­tria to Cam­bridge in the near term.

“Giv­en Bax­al­ta’s foot­print in Cam­bridge, along with the aca­d­e­m­ic and biotech ecosys­tem, it made sense to lo­cate much of R&D in an In­no­va­tion Hub there,” says a spokesper­son for the com­pa­ny about its re­de­ploy­ment plan. “In Lex­ing­ton, we de­cid­ed to cre­ate a Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence where we knew we could ac­com­mo­date bi­o­log­ics de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing, de­vice de­vel­op­ment, launch, etc. in terms of space.”

At one point af­ter the Bax­al­ta buy­out, the big ques­tion was whether Shire planned to keep it. But last fall Shire laid out plans to make it the com­pa­ny’s R&D cen­ter for rare dis­eases. Now Orn­skov says the site will be­come the new US HQ for Shire, which has been trans­formed re­cent­ly with a big­ger pipeline on rare dis­ease drugs. Shire is based in Ire­land, and that isn’t chang­ing in the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion. Orn­skov is al­so tak­ing the reins on R&D, at least dur­ing an in­ter­im pe­ri­od, as Phil Vick­ers ex­its the top re­search job.

The move fol­lows a sim­i­lar path tak­en at Bio­gen, which saw George Scan­gos move the HQ in­to Cam­bridge in 2011, short­ly af­ter he took over, so he could be clos­er to R&D. Like Scan­gos, who has since left to run a start­up on the West Coast, Orn­skov is de­ter­mined to play a big role in what us ar­guably the world’s largest biotech hub, near MIT and Har­vard. And he’ll be tak­ing res­i­dence in a hub that has at­tract­ed a wide va­ri­ety of com­pa­nies, from biotech star­tups to Big Phar­ma ops.

The con­sol­i­da­tion of Shire in­volves bring­ing in staffers from a va­ri­ety of sites scat­tered in the re­gion.

“One of the is­sues we have now is that every­one is spread out in many lo­ca­tions,” Orn­skov told Weis­man. “We want to con­sol­i­date.”

The move, which will take sev­er­al years to com­plete, al­ready has gen­er­at­ed some in­ter­nal com­plaints among staffers who aren’t keen to com­mute to Cam­bridge in a metro area that suf­fers from a mul­ti­tude of headaches brought on by in­tense con­ges­tion.

Orn­skov, though, has made con­cen­trat­ing the com­pa­ny in the area a key fea­ture ever since tak­ing over as CEO. He quick­ly shut­tered out­ly­ing sites in Penn­syl­va­nia and else­where in 2015, ei­ther re­lo­cat­ing or re­plac­ing staffers who wouldn’t make the move.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

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Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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