Te­va ax­ing 14,000 work­ers, putting R&D and man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties on the block in mas­sive re­struc­tur­ing

Im­age: Kåre Schultz, Te­va CEO. News Øre­sund

New­ly ap­point­ed Te­va CEO Kåre Schultz un­veiled a mas­sive re­or­ga­ni­za­tion of the com­pa­ny to­day, with plans to ax 14,000 work­ers, shut­ter R&D and man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in var­i­ous places and rad­i­cal­ly pare down $3 bil­lion in costs glob­al­ly to re­make the com­pa­ny in the wake of a pun­ish­ing down­turn in the gener­ic drug busi­ness.

Schultz and the team he’s putting to­geth­er for Te­va are mak­ing a rad­i­cal break from the past, shed­ding a long run­ning re­luc­tance to cut staffers in Is­rael. Al­to­geth­er, the com­pa­ny is cut­ting more than 25% of its work­force and slash­ing a large por­tion of its $16 bil­lion cost struc­ture.

That is a bit­ter pill for staffers at the com­pa­ny, but it is mu­sic to the ears of its in­vestors who have watched the num­bers de­te­ri­o­rate. Te­va’s stock spiked 16% af­ter the re­struc­tur­ing news hit.

The com­pa­ny’s state­ment says that they will close or sell off a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of R&D fa­cil­i­ties.” Man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties will al­so be put on the block. And Schultz plans to launch a top-to-bot­tom R&D re­or­ga­ni­za­tion, start­ing with a com­plete re­view of its spe­cial­ty and gener­ic pipelines. When it’s done, he says, Te­va plans to have a sub­stan­tial pipeline in place able to pro­duce new and gener­ic ther­a­pies. But a com­pa­ny spokesper­son tells me there are no specifics yet on who’s get­ting cut in R&D and which fa­cil­i­ties will be shut­tered.

Te­va is meld­ing to­geth­er its gener­ics and spe­cial­ty drug busi­ness, in­te­grat­ing two re­search groups for brand­ed and gener­ic drugs and look­ing for “syn­er­gies” that al­low the com­pa­ny to cut deep in­to R&D. R&D chief Michael Hay­den is al­so head­ed out, as the com­pa­ny an­nounced ear­li­er.

“The on­ly thing we are re­al­ly pro­tect­ing is the prod­uct flow,” Schultz told an­a­lysts Thurs­day morn­ing. Every­thing else, with the ex­cep­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing of prof­itable prod­ucts, faces the ax. The cuts are “all over the place,” both in the dif­fer­ent groups as well as the ge­o­gra­phies where Te­va works glob­al­ly.

Fo­cus­ing on man­u­fac­tur­ing, Schultz says that Te­va has 80 man­u­fac­tur­ing sites un­der re­view and there will be “dou­ble-dig­it plant clo­sures the next two years.” If the com­pa­ny was to wipe the slate clean and then start over, it would have a to­tal of on­ly 8 to 12 sites. It’s not re­al­is­tic to do that now, he adds, but over the next 10 years that’s the di­rec­tion the com­pa­ny plans to take fol­low­ing ini­tial cut­backs

Te­va will al­so set the stage for a planned launch of Auste­do and their CGRP mi­graine drug fre­manezum­ab. And the CEO cit­ed CNS dis­eases as Te­va’s best hope for de­liv­er­ing new med­i­cines as Te­va re­fo­cus­es R&D.

The CEO is al­so scrap­ping div­i­dends and bonus­es for 2017 as Te­va grap­ples with its fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Says Schultz:

To­day we are launch­ing a com­pre­hen­sive re­struc­tur­ing plan, cru­cial to restor­ing our fi­nan­cial se­cu­ri­ty and sta­bi­liz­ing our busi­ness. We are tak­ing im­me­di­ate and de­ci­sive ac­tions to re­duce our cost base across our glob­al busi­ness and be­come a more ef­fi­cient and prof­itable com­pa­ny.

Rum­blings about these cuts have al­ready in­spired a string of protest plans on the part of Is­raeli unions, which hold a pow­er­ful po­si­tion at Te­va. Over the past year, though, Te­va has been in a fi­nan­cial tail­spin. Its deal to buy Al­ler­gan’s gener­ic busi­ness just ahead of the price ero­sion in the field has af­flict­ed all play­ers.

“I am aware that we will be part­ing with peo­ple who have ded­i­cat­ed years and con­tributed a great deal to this com­pa­ny,” Schultz says in a note to staffers, “and I deeply ap­pre­ci­ate their com­mit­ment. We are al­so aware that these changes im­pact not on­ly our work­force, but ven­dors, sup­pli­ers and com­mu­ni­ties where we have played a key role for years. How­ev­er, there is no al­ter­na­tive to these dras­tic steps in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.”

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

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.

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.

President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

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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Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

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.

UP­DAT­ED: Es­ti­mat­ing a US price tag of $5K per course, remde­sivir is set to make bil­lions for Gilead, says key an­a­lyst

Data on remdesivir — the first drug shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a randomized, controlled trial setting — may be murky, but its maker Gilead could reap billions from the sales of the failed Ebola therapy, according to an estimate by a prominent Wall Street analyst. However, the forecast, which is based on a $5,000-per-course US price tag, triggered the ire of one top drug price expert.