Shkre­li set­tles in­to his new prison digs in Penn­syl­va­nia with a $30M+ law­suit against for­mer Retrophin col­leagues

“Phar­ma bro” Mar­tin Shkre­li is still ruf­fling feath­ers days af­ter be­ing trans­ferred to his new crib at a Penn­syl­va­nia fa­cil­i­ty.

On Fri­day, a law­suit filed in a fed­er­al court in Man­hat­tan re­vealed that the no­to­ri­ous 36-year-old for­mer hedge fund man­ag­er is seek­ing more than $30 mil­lion in dam­ages against his three for­mer col­leagues at Retrophin, al­leg­ing they “il­le­gal­ly” oust­ed him as the drug de­vel­op­er’s chief in 2014.

The ba­by faced Shkre­li — who once of­fered a $5,000 boun­ty for locks of Hillary Clin­ton’s hair — was thrust in­to the lime­light in 2015, af­ter the com­pa­ny he found­ed post Retrophin — Tur­ing Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — hiked up the price of a life-sav­ing drug it did not de­vel­op by 5000% overnight af­ter pur­chas­ing the rights to it. By 2017, he was con­vict­ed of se­cu­ri­ties fraud and hand­ed a sev­en-year sen­tence.

Gary Lyons LinkedIn

He was orig­i­nal­ly placed at a low-se­cu­ri­ty prison in Fort Dix, New Jer­sey. How­ev­er, in March a Wall Street Jour­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that Shkre­li was still “call­ing the shots” at Tur­ing, now known as Phoenixus AG, us­ing a con­tra­band cell phone — trig­ger­ing his trans­fer to a fed­er­al jail in Brook­lyn, New York. Re­cent­ly he was moved again to a jail in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, af­ter Shkre­li spawned and built Retrophin in­to a “suc­cess­ful en­ter­prise worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars,” he was “un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly and il­le­gal­ly oust­ed from the com­pa­ny”.

Stephen Ase­lage Patara

In the first quar­ter, Retrophin gen­er­at­ed net prod­uct rev­enue of $39.6 mil­lion via the sales of three treat­ments: the kid­ney stone pre­ven­ter Thi­o­la; bile dis­or­der drug Chol­bam; and drug for gall­blad­der stones Chen­odal.

“De­fen­dants, who had lit­tle to do with the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny but were in­stead dri­ven by their egos, jeal­ousy, and greed, were suc­cess­ful in on­ly one thing: cre­at­ing and car­ry­ing out a scheme to oust Mr. Shkre­li from the com­pa­ny for their self­ish ben­e­fit,” the law­suit said.

Shkre­li — who pur­chased all the rights to a Wu Tang Clan for a cool $2 mil­lion be­fore his prison sen­tence — in the suit is lash­ing out against: Retrophin’s board chair­man Gary Lyons; for­mer com­pa­ny CEO (and cur­rent di­rec­tor) Stephen Ase­lage; and the com­pa­ny’s for­mer lawyer, Mar­garet Valeur-Jensen.

Im­age: Mar­tin Shkre­li af­ter tri­al in 2017. Den­nis Van Tine/Me­di­a­Punch/IPX via AP IM­AGES

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

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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FDA de­lays de­ci­sion on No­var­tis’ po­ten­tial block­buster MS drug, wip­ing away pri­or­i­ty re­view

So much for a speedy review.

In February, Novartis announced that an application for their much-touted multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab had been accepted and, with the drug company cashing in on one of their priority review vouchers, the agency was due for a decision by June.

But with June less than 48 hours old, Novartis announced the agency has extended their review, pushing back the timeline for approval or rejection to September. The Swiss pharma filed the application in December, meaning their new schedule will be nearly in line with the standard 10-month window period had they not used the priority voucher.

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David Meline, incoming Moderna CFO

Am­gen vet David Meline finds a new CFO roost at Mod­er­na, tak­ing a ride on the Covid-19 tiger as de­part­ing ex­ec cash­es out with $12M

We found out a few weeks ago that Moderna CFO Lorence Kim isn’t waiting around to see how the biotech wunderkind makes out in its frantic race to field a messenger RNA vaccine that can quell Covid-19. And now we know who’s stepping on board to take his place in the latest move in the executive suite.

David Meline, who forged his rep during a 6-year run at Amgen, slipped out the exit right after his Q2 “retirement” party in California — presumably virtual — and started the next chapter of his career at a biotech company betting big on revolutionizing the vaccine R&D space.

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Joseph Kim, Inovio CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Caught in a stand­off with its con­tract man­u­fac­tur­er over Covid-19 vac­cine, In­ovio files suit in an at­tempt to break free while ri­vals race ahead

Inovio was one of the first vaccine developers to snag attention for a jab that their execs said promised to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Using their own unique DNA tech, CEO Joseph Kim said it took just 3 hours to work it out.

But while rivals are racing to the finish line with ambitious plans to make vast quantities of their vaccines with billions of dollars of deals, Inovio is still stuck at the starting line on manufacturing.

Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

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.

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na read­ies to en­ter PhI­II in Ju­ly, As­traZeneca not far be­hind; EU ready to ne­go­ti­ate vac­cine ac­cess with $2.7B fund

Moderna may soon add another first to the Covid-19 vaccine race.

In March, the mRNA biotech was the first company to put a Covid-19 vaccine into humans. Next month, they may become the first company to put their vaccine into the large, late-stage trials that are needed to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

In an interview with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, NIAID chief Anthony Fauci said that a 30,000-person, Phase III trial for Moderna’s vaccine could start in July. The news comes a week after Moderna began a Phase II study that will enroll several hundred people.

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José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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