The Fort Dix re­demp­tion: Mar­tin Shkre­li’s con­tra­band cell phones, new biotech schemes and fresh so­cial me­dia in­famy

Mar­tin Shkre­li is not your av­er­age oc­cu­pant of a fed­er­al prison cell.

He us­es a con­tra­band cell phone to man­age his busi­ness, the same one that made him no­to­ri­ous as a price gouger who gamed the phar­ma sys­tem by buy­ing an old, cheap drug and jack­ing up the price at an as­tro­nom­i­cal rate.

He whiles away his time read­ing about drugs and drug de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to an amaz­ing­ly in-depth fea­ture from the Wall Street Jour­nal, which gets right down to nam­ing some close friends who help pro­tect him in the yard of the low-se­cu­ri­ty Fort Dix pen. And there’s free time to main­tain a blog, jump on to Twit­ter and ridicule var­i­ous peo­ple, which was al­ways his fa­vorite hob­by. 

Or at least he did. Banned from Twit­ter long ago and in mul­ti­ple oth­er cas­es us­ing var­i­ous han­dles,@SRi­ole has gone dark. Twit­ter ini­tial­ly kicked him off af­ter a weird stalk­ing in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a fe­male re­porter, and ap­pears ea­ger to keep him off in a game of whack-a-mole now that he’s serv­ing a 7 year sen­tence.

Shkre­li, who is not stu­pid even though he of­ten does stu­pid things, knows what this kind of press can mean for the rest of his time be­hind bars, at least in terms of cell phones — which he used to fire his CEO and then un-fire him, ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal ar­ti­cle. 

But don’t look for him to ap­pear pan­icked. His lat­est blog post on Thurs­day is a 3-line pro­file of street smug — from some­one who’s been tak­en off the street. 

Who talked to the Jake….

In this Wall Street Jour­nal ar­ti­cle, who do you think is try­ing to get Your Boy in trou­ble? Name them in the com­ments be­low who you think did it.

The Jake, by the way, is the cops, as pop­u­lar­ized by the Wu Tang Clan, who once did a pri­vate al­bum pre-prison Shkre­li pur­chased for $2 mil­lion.

Mar­tin “Phar­ma Bro” Shkre­li may have be­come in­fa­mous through his price goug­ing, but it was fi­nan­cial fraud at his bust­ed hedge funds that land­ed him in prison with a 7-year sen­tence. And he’s de­ter­mined to make bil­lions be­hind bars through the le­gal, old-fash­ioned way: buy­ing and sell­ing rare dis­ease ther­a­pies.

Of course, the FBI probe cit­ed by the Jour­nal could al­so spell trou­ble on that front.


Im­age: Mar­tin Shkre­li. AP IM­AGES

Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO

UP­DAT­ED: An­a­lysts are quick to pan Eli Lil­ly's puz­zling first cut of pos­i­tive clin­i­cal da­ta for its Covid-19 an­ti­body

Eli Lilly spotlighted a success for one of 3 doses of their closely-watched Covid-19 antibody drug Wednesday morning. But analysts quickly highlighted some obvious anomalies that could come back to haunt the pharma giant as it looks for an emergency use authorization to launch marketing efforts.

The pharma giant reported that LY-CoV555, developed in collaboration with AbCellera, significantly reduced the rate of hospitalization among patients who were treated with the antibody. The drug arm of the study had a 1.7% hospitalization rate, compared to 6% in the control group, marking a 72% drop in risk.

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Sean Bo­hen's break from bio­phar­ma is over. The ex-As­traZeneca CMO has re­tired his Big Phar­ma jer­sey and is now — hap­pi­ly — run­ning a lit­tle biotech

The last I had heard about Sean Bohen, he had stepped out of his high-profile job as chief medical officer at AstraZeneca at the beginning of 2019 as CEO Pascal Soriot triggered a broad-ranging R&D shakeup. And then, earlier this week, I got a chance to catch up.

It turns out that Bohen decided at the time that he would not just jump into a new job in the booming biopharma business. As an oncologist, he had worked on the big programs at AstraZeneca, and before that he was at Genentech. That was good for a ticket to just about anyplace in the big biopharma world. But he felt it was time to stop and think things through.

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Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: A mi­cro-cap with a po­ten­tial­ly promis­ing coro­n­avirus drug en­lists mask-skep­tic con­gress­man for DSMB

A small biotech that has talked up a potentially promising but unproven treatment for Covid-19 enlisted an unusual member for its study’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board: a sitting Republican congressman with close ties to the CEO and a history of mask skepticism.

NeuroRx, an Israeli biotech testing a lung inflammation drug in Covid-19 patients, tapped Maryland Rep. Andy Harris for the DSMB, Politico reported. Harris is an anesthesiologist but not a biostatistician, and he has questioned the CDC about a “cult of masks” in the US. Harris has known NeuroRx CEO Jonathan Javitt since the two worked at Johns Hopkins together over 20 years ago.

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#ES­MO20: Alk­er­mes of­fers their first snap­shot of a ben­e­fit for their next-gen IL-2 drug. But why did 1 pa­tient starve to death?

Everyone in the cancer R&D arena is looking to build new franchises around better drugs and combos. And one busy pocket of that space is centered entirely on creating an IL-2 drug that can be as effective as the original without the toxicity that damned it to the sidelines.

Alkermes $ALKS formally tossed its hat into the ring of contenders at virtual ESMO today, highlighting the first glimpse of efficacy for their candidate, ALKS 4230, as both a monotherapy as well as in combination with Merck’s Keytruda.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Pfiz­er match­es Mod­er­na with their full Covid-19 tri­al blue­print — As­traZeneca says it will un­veil its pro­to­col 'short­ly'

Yesterday, after sustained public pressure as Moderna released its Phase III Covid-19 trial blueprint, Pfizer released its own full trial design for their vaccine trials. The move was designed to boost transparency and shore up public trust in the vaccines, but it also revealed differences in how the two companies are approaching the much-watched studies while failing to satisfy the demands of the fiercest advocates for transparency.

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Stronger to­geth­er? Boehringer and Mi­rati team to put first KRAS-KRAS com­bo in the clin­ic

Researchers are still waiting to see how much any of the vaunted KRAS drugs now in the clinic can, after decades of preclinical research and some early human studies, help patients. But while they do, two of the leading developers will look to see whether a KRAS-KRAS combo might pose a better shot than any KRAS alone.

Boehringer Ingelheim and Mirati have signed a collaboration to combine Mirati’s closely-watched lead KRAS inhibitor, MRTX849, in a clinical trial with the pan-KRAS blocker that Boehringer has quietly developed with high expectations behind their flashier contenders.

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#ES­MO20: Re­gen­eron, Sanofi eye an­oth­er first for their PD-1 con­tender Lib­tayo with promis­ing da­ta for on­col­o­gy niche

Regeneron and Sanofi took another step forward in the long march towards a greatly expanded market for their late-bloomer PD-1 checkpoint Libtayo.

The two occasional allies posted an objective response rate of 31% for Libtayo among 84 patients suffering from advanced cases of basal cell carcinoma at virtual ESMO. That spotlights progress for 26 patients, 5 of whom had a complete response. The data also reflect a boost in the number of responses seen from the last cut of the numbers.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Pfiz­er ex­ecs con­fi­dent­ly tap their top 10 block­busters-to-be. But what are the chances of sur­viv­ing PhI­II, let alone hit­ting these big peak sales es­ti­mates?

Pfizer’s top executive team doesn’t lack for confidence.

Where many Big Pharmas would be reluctant to put a peak sales figure on their late-stage drugs, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has shrugged off the usual diffidence to outline where the pharma giant expects to get $15 billion-plus.

The list, outlined this week during their investor presentations, is topped by 3 drugs in the $3 billion-plus peak sales category. They are:

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Christian Itin, Autolus CEO (Autolus)

#ES­MO20: Au­to­lus pro­vides glimpse of next-gen­er­a­tion CAR-T pro­gram, show­ing ear­ly pos­i­tive safe­ty da­ta

CAR-T therapies were hailed as a breakthrough when Novartis received the first FDA approval for Kymriah back in 2017. Though highly effective at treating certain types of blood cancers, CAR-Ts are also associated with severe and potentially deadly side effects, including lethal instances of cytokine release syndrome.

With this in mind, Autolus Therapeutics is looking to take a crack at a safer CAR-T and presented Phase II cohort data for its AUTO3 program at virtual ESMO 2020. The data showed that, among the 35 patients in the cohort being treated for r/r diffuse large B cell lymphoma, there were no instances of Grade 3 or higher CRS. Eight individuals saw Grade 1 inflammation while another four patients reached Grade 2.

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