That feel­ing you get when you hit the fin­ish line, and then set new goals


Self-con­grat­u­la­tion is an art form most of us mas­ter at an ear­ly age. And I’m no dif­fer­ent from your av­er­age per­son.

Like every­one, I un­der­stand noth­ing is sweet­er than the last step of a 1,000-mile march to the fin­ish line of a big goal. We as­sume that every­one wants to cel­e­brate with us when we ar­rive, but that’s not usu­al­ly the case.

So I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Some­time in the next day or so, End­points News will pass the 50,000 mark on sub­scribers. That is the sec­ond of two goals I set out for my­self at the be­gin­ning — June 20, 2016. The ‘win’ I was look­ing for (along­side 500,000-plus web traf­fic and 250,000-plus month­ly users, a goal we blew the doors off of months ago). And I’ve de­vot­ed a good deal to achiev­ing it.

For me, every­one work­ing in bio­phar­ma R&D is a res­i­dent of a glob­al city. They are part of an or­gan­ic whole, whether they live in Shang­hai, South San Fran­cis­co or ei­ther Cam­bridge. And they can be con­nect­ed in­stant­ly. That’s what we do. We con­nect. We’re the news cir­cuit this net­work plugs in­to, pow­ered by an ever-evolv­ing set of events that re­veals un­der­ly­ing trends.

Now, if you’re as­sum­ing that we blast out to some spam group as­so­ci­at­ed with bio­phar­ma, put that aside. Each and every in­di­vid­ual who sub­scribed in the US, the UK, Chi­na, Switzer­land, or Den­mark or Cana­da, etc. asked for it per­son­al­ly. I know. I have an app on my phone that lets me see the score in re­al time. And every­one can leave at a mo­ment’s no­tice. I check it, um, reg­u­lar­ly.

You mea­sure a long jour­ney in small amounts of progress. You want to win a ball game? Win every in­ning and the last out is a breeze. And I’m two years, 10 months and 20 days in­to this ball game. When I found­ed this boot-strap ven­ture, I was clos­ing in on 60. So I al­so have the rare plea­sure of start­ing out on a mis­sion that can ob­jec­tive­ly be de­fined as clin­i­cal­ly in­sane.

Ini­tial­ly, this busi­ness was just Ar­salan Arif, Shehla Shakoor with some big help from Ig­or Yavych, and me. So you could say it in­volved a lot of work for all of us. We’ve grown, adding great writ­ers and ed­i­tors, con­trib­u­tors, de­sign­ers, and sales/ops peo­ple to the mix. Me­dia is by de­f­i­n­i­tion a team sport. And there was no get­ting to this point alone. Ever.

Achiev­ing one goal is an ex­cel­lent rea­son to set out new ones. 100,000 sub­scribers-plus with a mil­lion-plus in month­ly web traf­fic and 500,000 users lie out there — and maybe not so far out. A much big­ger team will make that hap­pen. And I’ll stay a play­er/coach for some time if the jour­nal­ism gods are kind.

Thank you for read­ing, and thanks for pass­ing us along to your col­leagues, which is our on­ly mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. For those of you who paid for the pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion, I’d like to of­fer spe­cial thanks. With­out all of you, this would be me shout­ing down a well on the In­ter­net. I don’t much care for lone­ly pur­suits.

So raise a glass, say cheers and let’s move on to the next goal.

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.

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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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.