Ten big lob­by­ing groups turn their guns on Al­ler­gan's con­tro­ver­sial patent gam­bit

Brent Saun­ders, CEO Al­ler­gan

Ten of the biggest health­care lob­by­ing groups in Wash­ing­ton, DC have joined the grow­ing forces lined up against Al­ler­gan’s patent gam­bit in­volv­ing Resta­sis.

In a let­ter to Con­gress, the al­liance — which in­cludes the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion and Amer­i­ca’s Health In­sur­ance Plans — blast­ed Al­ler­gan $AGN for putting prof­its ahead of pa­tients and put their CEO in the same camp with no­to­ri­ous bio­phar­ma bad boy Mar­tin Shkre­li, the price-goug­ing ex­ec at Tur­ing who’s now chill­ing in a fed­er­al prison await­ing sen­tenc­ing on three felony con­vic­tions.

The ac­tions tak­en by Al­ler­gan and the St. Reg­is tribe to en­sure that pa­tients and pay­ors do not ben­e­fit from time­ly gener­ic com­pe­ti­tion to Resta­sis is an alarm­ing new ex­am­ple of the steps that brand name drug com­pa­nies will take to put prof­its above the pub­lic in­ter­est. Over the last two years there has been a great deal of con­gres­sion­al, me­dia and pub­lic fo­cus and scruti­ny paid to brand­ed prod­ucts like Dara­prim (by Shkre­li) and EpiPen (My­lan). Giv­en the on­go­ing con­cern about drug costs, it war­rants men­tion that Resta­sis gen­er­ates more in an­nu­al rev­enue than both of those prod­ucts com­bined.

That fol­lows crit­i­cism from a grow­ing line­up of De­moc­rats and Re­pub­li­cans who be­lieve that Al­ler­gan is up to no good.

Just weeks ago Al­ler­gan found it­self in a bright pub­lic spot­light af­ter hand­ing over patent rights on Resta­sis to the Saint Reg­is Mo­hawk Tribe, which runs its own casi­no, in ex­change for some hefty pay­ments. Right af­ter, the tribe went to court to claim that its sov­er­eign im­mu­ni­ty sta­tus trumped an in­ter partes re­view of the patent, which threat­ened the com­pa­ny’s $1.5 bil­lion drug fran­chise.

The 10 groups not­ed:

For less than 0.01 per­cent of the drug’s an­nu­al sales, Al­ler­gan’s deal could de­lay com­pe­ti­tion (by pro­tect­ing its new patents from re­view) for at least six ad­di­tion­al years.

Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders has dug in deep, re­fus­ing to budge and vow­ing to pro­tect a move that he feels is com­plete­ly jus­ti­fied. Tak­ing to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Jour­nal, Saun­ders once again tried to turn the dis­cus­sion to what he be­lieves is an un­fair IPR process.

He wrote:

IPR’s flaws have been ex­ploit­ed by gener­ic man­u­fac­tur­ers and a new breed of “re­verse trolls.” There have been many cas­es of hedge funds that de­mand­ed cash from brand­ed bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies as a pay­off for not fil­ing IPR chal­lenges. Al­ler­gan has been the tar­get of one of these ex­tor­tion-like at­tacks. Hedge funds have al­so tak­en short po­si­tions in com­pa­nies and then filed IPR chal­lenges to dri­ve down their stock val­ue.

The ques­tion now is whether law­mak­ers can quick­ly ramp up new leg­is­la­tion to throt­tle the move by Al­ler­gan, or if the courts take over for a lengthy re­view of the le­gal is­sues.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

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On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.