Marc Casper, Thermo Fisher

Ther­mo Fish­er has flour­ished amid the pan­dem­ic, but can it keep the ball rolling when Covid-19 comes to a close?

Amid a gang­busters 12 months for con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers, Ther­mo Fish­er Sci­en­tif­ic saw a mas­sive rev­enue bump in Q1 — and that’s with­out con­sid­er­ing its $17.4 bil­lion buy­out of con­tract re­searcher PPD. But Covid-19 won’t last for­ev­er, and an­a­lysts won­der when and if Ther­mo Fish­er will come back to earth.

On an earn­ings call with an­a­lysts Thurs­day, CEO Marc Casper point­ed to a string of re­cent in­vest­ments — the PPD ac­qui­si­tion ob­vi­ous­ly the largest — as a sign that Ther­mo is lever­ag­ing its gush­ing cash flow to put it­self in a po­si­tion to suc­ceed even once the pan­dem­ic comes to an end. The com­pa­ny post­ed 59% rev­enue growth on the quar­ter to $9.91 bil­lion.

The CD­MO has been best known for its Covid-19 di­ag­nos­tics — and that seg­ment of its busi­ness grew about 69% from the same time pe­ri­od last year — but its life sci­ences unit is where the firm has made the most progress. That unit re­port­ed rev­enue growth of 137% in Q1 to $4.2 bil­lion.

But with such rapid growth, can Ther­mo Fish­er sus­tain it? Casper told an­a­lysts:

When I think about post pan­dem­ic … one of the things we said back a year ago is that we’d man­age the com­pa­ny in such a way in that we’d ex­it the pan­dem­ic with a mean­ing­ful­ly stronger in­dus­try lead­er­ship then when we went in and ob­vi­ous­ly we went in with a very strong po­si­tion. And if i think about the ac­tions we’ve tak­en, we’ve ac­cel­er­at­ed our in­vest­ments in op­er­at­ing ex­pens­es, R&D, and (cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures) to be a faster grow­ing com­pa­ny or­gan­i­cal­ly ex­it­ing the pan­dem­ic.

Two weeks ago, Ther­mo Fish­er an­nounced it would ac­quire PPD for $17.4 bil­lion in cash plus an as­sump­tion of about $3.5 bil­lion in net debt. In Feb­ru­ary, it ac­quired mol­e­c­u­lar di­ag­nos­tic com­pa­ny Mesa Biotech and its easy, af­ford­able PCR test­ing plat­form for flu, res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus (RSV) and Strep A.

In Jan­u­ary, Ther­mo Fish­er ac­quired Eu­ro­pean vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­er Henogen SA from No­vasep for $878.2 mil­lion.

The com­pa­ny has made “sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments” in phar­ma ser­vices and bio­pro­duc­tion ser­vices, Casper said, and that ca­pac­i­ty will even­tu­al­ly be able to shift away to non-Covid-19

“We didn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly say ‘let’s put a load of mon­ey where the pan­dem­ic is, but rather where’s the best op­por­tu­ni­ties to make a dif­fer­ence for your cus­tomers long term,” Casper said. “And so the first thing we ex­pect­ed … what­ev­er the time­line of the pan­dem­ic, is that we will be a faster grow­ing com­pa­ny at that same point.”

On top of its far-look­ing in­vest­ments, Ther­mo Fish­er has al­so made short-term moves to shore up sup­ply in the face of Covid-19. In March, the com­pa­ny dropped $600 mil­lion in­to its sup­ply chain to han­dle short-term Covid-19 projects and more than dou­ble its ca­pac­i­ty for the fu­ture. Ther­mo Fish­er al­so an­nounced a dras­tic in­crease in pro­duc­tion of As­traZeneca’s Covid-19 vac­cine at its Bel­gium plant in Feb­ru­ary.

In ad­di­tion to its es­tab­lished and re­freshed base of PCR in­stru­ments, Ther­mo Fish­er’s lab plas­tics busi­ness has ex­pand­ed its ca­pac­i­ty to help al­le­vi­ate sup­ply chain is­sues. Through the pan­dem­ic, the com­pa­ny says it’s been able to demon­strate its abil­i­ty to scale up its mR­NA vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ing. Soon, that same tech­nol­o­gy will be used to cre­ate vac­cines for oth­er virus­es, Casper said.

Mov­ing Out of the Clin­ic with Dig­i­tal Tools: Mo­bile Spirom­e­try Dur­ing COVID-19 & Be­yond

An important technology in assessing lung function, spirometry offers crucial data for the diagnosis and monitoring of pulmonary system diseases, as well as the ongoing measurement of treatment efficacy. But trends in the healthcare industry and new challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic are causing professionals in clinical practice and research to reevaluate spirometry’s deployment methods and best practices.

Paul Hudson (Getty Images)

Sanofi, Glax­o­SmithK­line jump back in­to the PhI­II race for a Covid vac­cine — as the win­ners con­gre­gate be­hind the fin­ish line

Sanofi got out early in the race to develop a vaccine using more of a traditional approach, then derailed late last year as their candidate failed to work in older people. Now, after likely missing the bus for the bulk of the world’s affluent nations, they’re back from that embarrassing collapse with a second attempt using GSK’s adjuvant that may get them back on track — with a potential Q4 launch that the rest of the world will be paying close attention to.

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Nader Pourhassan, CytoDyn CEO (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for CytoDyn’s Pro, via Getty Images)

FDA to Cy­to­Dyn: Those 2 Covid tri­als you keep tout­ing both failed on all end­points and your sub­group analy­sis does­n't help. Are we clear now?

As a matter of official policy, the FDA doesn’t comment about unapproved drugs and the data gathered to back them.

As an unofficial policy, though, the agency can still be provoked by a seemingly unending stream of promotional releases to call a company out for a complete and utter failure.

So it was today with CytoDyn, a biotech company that has a habit of blasting statements out about their drug leronlimab, which has been touted as a potential treatment for Covid-19.

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SCO­TUS de­clines to re­view En­brel biosim­i­lar case, tee­ing up 30+ years of ex­clu­siv­i­ty and $20B more for Am­gen’s block­buster

As the House Oversight Committee is set to grill AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday over tactics to block competition for its best-selling drug of all time, another decision on Capitol Hill on Monday opened the door for billions more in Amgen profits over the next eight years.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Novartis subsidiary Sandoz’s petition to review a Federal Circuit’s July 2020 decision concerning its biosimilar Erelzi (etanercept-szzs), which FDA approved in 2016 as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept). Samsung’s Enbrel biosimilar Eticovo also won approval in 2019 and remains sidelined.

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Charles Riv­er keeps adding on to its CD­MO arm, snatch­ing up a vi­ral vec­tor play­er for a tidy $350M

Contract researcher Charles River Laboratories has been on a roll recently to flesh out its manufacturing arm with a specific focus on its capabilities in gene therapy. Now, the firm is putting its name to a big check for a Maryland-based viral vector firm it thinks will add to its growing expertise in the field.

Charles River will dole out $292.5 million for gene therapy CDMO Vigene Biosciences with the possibility for an additional $57.5 million in performance-based payments, the companies said Monday. The deal will close at the start of Q3, a Charles River spokesman said.

How to man­u­fac­ture Covid-19 vac­cines with­out the help of J&J, Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na? Bi­ol­yse sees the dif­fi­cul­ties up close

When Biolyse, an Ontario-based manufacturer of sterile injectables, forged a deal with Bolivia last week to manufacture up to 50 million J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses, the agreement kicked off what will prove to be a test case for how difficult the system of compulsory licenses is to navigate.

The first problem: When Biolyse asked J&J, via a March letter, to license its Covid-19 vaccine, manufacture it in Canada and pay 5% royalties on shipments to needy, low-income countries, J&J rejected the offer, refusing to negotiate. J&J also did not respond to a request for comment.

Tim Mayleben (L) and Sheldon Koenig (Esperion)

On the heels of a sting­ing Q1 set­back, Es­pe­ri­on's long­time cham­pi­on is ex­it­ing the helm and turn­ing the wheel over to a mar­ket­ing pro

Just days after getting stung by criticism from a badly disappointed group of analysts, there’s a big change happening today at the helm of Esperion $ESPR.

Longtime CEO Tim Mayleben, who championed the company for 9 years from early clinical through a lengthy late-stage drive to successfully get their cholesterol drug approved for a significant niche of patients in the US, is out of the C suite, effective immediately. Sheldon Koenig — hired at the end of 2020 with a resume replete with Big Pharma CV sales experience —  is stepping into his place, promising to right a badly listing commercial ship that’s been battered by market forces.

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No­var­tis' En­tresto takes its 2nd fail­ure of the week­end at ACC, show­ing no ben­e­fit in most dire heart fail­ure pa­tients

Novartis’ Entresto started the ACC weekend off rough with a trial flop in heart attack patients, slowing the drug’s push into earlier patients. Now, an NIH-sponsored study is casting doubt on Entresto’s use in the most severe heart failure patients, another black mark on the increasingly controversial drug’s record.

Entresto, a combination of sacubitril and valsartan, could not beat out valsartan alone in an outcomes head-to-head for severe heart failure patients with a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), according to data presented Monday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

In­sid­er ac­count of Roivan­t's SPAC deal — and that $7.3B val­u­a­tion — re­veals a few se­crets as Matt Gline po­si­tions the com­pa­ny as the new ‘Big Phar­ma’

It was Oct. 7, 2020, and Matt Gline wasn’t wasting any time.

The CEO of Roivant had word that KKR vet Jim Momtazee’s SPAC had priced late the night before, triggering a green light for anyone interested in pursuing a big check for future operations and riding the financial instrument to Nasdaq. So he wrote a quick email congratulating Momtazee, whom he knew, for the launch.

Oh, and maybe Momtazee would like to schedule something with Gline and his executive chairman, Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy, to chat about Roivant and its business?

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