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.

Up­dat­ed: FDA re­mains silent on or­phan drug ex­clu­siv­i­ty af­ter last year's court loss

Since losing a controversial court case over orphan drug exclusivity last year, the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development has remained entirely silent on orphan exclusivity for any product approved since last November, leaving many sponsors in limbo on what to expect.

That silence means that for more than 70 orphan-designated indications for more than 60 products, OOPD has issued no public determination on the seven-year orphan exclusivity in the Orange Book, and no new listings of orphan exclusivity appear in OOPD’s searchable database, as highlighted recently by George O’Brien, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, DC office.

Thomas Gad, Y-mAbs Therapeutics founder and interim CEO

FDA re­jects Y-mAbs’ neu­rob­las­toma drug af­ter tak­ing is­sue with clin­i­cal tri­al de­sign

Uncertainty about clinical trial evidence has led the FDA to hand down a complete response letter for Y-mAbs’ neuroblastoma drug, casting a cloud on the future of a candidate that had gone through a long development journey in a rare pediatric cancer.

Y-mAbs said it’s disappointed “but not surprised” given that the agency’s oncology drug advisory committee had voted 16-0 against its drug’s approval a few weeks ago.

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Philip Tagari switch­es Am­gen's dis­cov­ery lab for in­sitro's ma­chine learn­ing tools; CEO Joaquin Du­a­to to chair J&J's board

In February, Philip Tagari will take a few days of retirement and then immediately return to industry. He won’t be leading the therapeutics discovery unit for a large biopharma, though.

He’ll trade in his Amgen hat for chief scientist at a machine learning startup that has reeled in hundreds of millions in capital to lay the groundwork for a much-hyped new model of drug discovery that aims to speed up the time to new clinical assets.

Raul Rodriguez, Rigel Pharma CEO

Rigel Phar­ma scores FDA ap­proval for leukemia, kick­ing off show­down with Servi­er in IDH1

When Rigel Pharma bought olutasidenib from Forma Therapeutics, it acquired a drug that already secured a PDUFA date at the FDA — for February 2023. But regulators are ready to give their OK sooner than that.

The FDA has approved the IDH1 inhibitor as a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia who have a susceptible IDH-1 (isocitrate dehydrogenase-1) mutation as detected by an FDA-greenlit test. Rigel will market it as Rezlidhia.

Tim Pearson, Carrick Therapeutics CEO

Pfiz­er backs $60M in­fu­sion in­to Car­rick, teams up on breast can­cer treat­ment

In a big week for Carrick Therapeutics, the company announced $60 million in funding for its lead breast cancer drug and development of a second program, as well as a collaboration with Pfizer for combo development.

The $35 million from Pfizer comes with an agreement under which Pfizer will support Carrick’s Phase II study of samuraciclib in combination with Pfizer’s Faslodex for advanced breast cancer. Along with the investment, Adam Schayowitz, vice president and development head of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma at Pfizer global product development, will join Carrick’s scientific advisory board.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and Am­gen are bring­ing cash to cov­er the ta­ble stakes for the Hori­zon M&A game

With the market cap on Horizon Therapeutics $HZNP pushed up to the $23 billion mark today, one of the Big Pharmas in the hunt for a major league buyout deal signaled it’s playing the M&A game with cash.

Paris-based Sanofi, where CEO Paul Hudson has been largely focused on some risky biotech acquisitions to win some respect for its future pipeline prospects, issued a statement early Friday — complying with Rule 2.12 of the Irish takeover rules — making clear that while the certainty or size of an offer can’t be determined, any offer “will be solely in cash.” And Amgen CEO Robert Bradway came right in behind him, filing a statement on the London Stock Exchange overnight that any offer they may make will “likely” be in cash as well.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

As mon­ey pours in­to dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, in­sur­ance cov­er­age crawls



Talk therapy didn’t help Lily with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a video game did.

As the 10-year-old zooms through icy waters and targets flying creatures on the snow-capped planet Frigidus, she builds attention skills, thanks to Akili Interactive Labs’ video game EndeavorRx. She’s now less anxious and scattered, allowing her to stay on a low dose of ADHD medication, according to her mom Violet Vu.

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Eli Lil­ly’s Alzheimer’s drug clears more amy­loid ear­ly than Aduhelm in first-ever head-to-head. Will it mat­ter?

Ahead of the FDA’s decision on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab in February, the Big Pharma is dropping a first cut of data from one of the more interesting trials — but less important in a regulatory sense — at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Francisco.

In the unblinded 148-person study, Eli Lilly pitted its drug against Aduhelm, Biogen’s drug that won FDA approval but lost Medicare coverage outside of clinical trials. Notably, the study didn’t look at clinical outcomes, but rather the clearance of amyloid, a protein whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.

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Lynn Baxter, Viiv Healthcare's head of North America

Vi­iV dri­ves new cor­po­rate coali­tion in­clud­ing Uber, Tin­der and Wal­mart, aimed at end­ing HIV

ViiV Healthcare is pulling together an eclectic coalition of consumer businesses in a new White House-endorsed effort to end HIV by the end of the decade.

The new US Business Action to End HIV includes pharma and health companies — Gilead Sciences, CVS Health and Walgreens — but extends to a wide range of consumer companies that includes Tinder, Uber and Walmart.

ViiV is the catalyst for the group, plunking down more than half a million dollars in seed money and taking on ringmaster duties for launch today on World AIDS Day, but co-creator Health Action Alliance will organize joint activities going forward. ViiV and the alliance want and expect more companies to not only join the effort, but also pitch in funding.

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