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.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

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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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.

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. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.