This year's For­tune 500 list is out. And phar­ma com­pa­nies saw ma­jor prof­it growth

2021 was a year of good for­tune for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies — at least the ones on this year’s For­tune 500 list. Many saw a mas­sive surge in prof­its last year, led by Gilead and its mam­moth 4,961% growth.

How­ev­er, it ap­pears Gilead isn’t alone in that re­spect. De­spite its gains, the com­pa­ny ac­tu­al­ly fell 13 spots in For­tune’s rank to No. 129, as sev­er­al oth­er com­pa­nies more than dou­bled their prof­its.

Pfiz­er saw a 128.6% growth, mov­ing up 34 spots on For­tune’s rank to No. 43. The phar­ma gi­ant raked in $81.3 bil­lion last year, and this year ex­pects to earn $32 bil­lion in Covid-19 vac­cine sales alone.

CEO Al­bert Bourla has big plans for those fresh bil­lions, ad­mit­ting on the Q1 call that “ac­qui­si­tions are ob­vi­ous­ly very much in the cards.” On­col­o­gy, vac­cines, rare dis­eases and in­ter­nal med­i­cine are among the core fo­cus­es in R&D, ac­cord­ing to chief busi­ness in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer Aamir Ma­lik.

Ab­b­Vie saw a 150% in­crease in prof­its, mov­ing up five spots to No. 63 as CEO Rick Gon­za­lez fo­cus­es on lin­ing up suc­ces­sors to the com­pa­ny’s block­buster Hu­mi­ra. Last year, Hu­mi­ra crossed the $20 bil­lion mark in sales. Look­ing ahead, Gon­za­lez said Skyrizi and Rin­voq can sur­pass Hu­mi­ra’s peak sales.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive re­vealed ear­li­er this year that Ab­b­Vie will look to add sev­er­al new in­di­ca­tions to the Skyrizi and Rin­voq la­bels in the com­ing months. But he isn’t re­ly­ing on those prod­ucts en­tire­ly. Gon­za­lez con­tin­ues to beef up the ear­ly-stage pipeline, and just last week shelled out $48.5 mil­lion to jump in­to the Treg space with Cu­gene.

Re­gen­eron leapfrogged the most spots on For­tune’s list, jump­ing 123 places to No. 231, with a 129.9% prof­it growth. The biotech’s mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body treat­ment for Covid-19 brought in $6.19 bil­lion last year, out of a to­tal $16.07 bil­lion in sales. That’s chang­ing, though, as the FDA halt­ed its use ear­li­er this year due to “marked­ly re­duced ac­tiv­i­ty” against the Omi­cron vari­ant.

Mod­er­na al­so made its For­tune 500 de­but this year, clock­ing in at No. 195, af­ter rak­ing in more than $18 bil­lion last year from its mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine. Ear­li­er this year, CEO Stéphane Ban­cel pegged a $19 bil­lion sales es­ti­mate for 2022.

Mean­while, John­son & John­son re­mains the high­est bio­phar­ma com­pa­ny on For­tune’s list, stand­ing at No. 37 with a 41.9% growth in prof­its. It may not stay there for long, as J&J re­cent­ly low­ered its full-year sales fore­cast to be­tween $94.8 bil­lion and $95.8 bil­lion, down about $1 bil­lion from what the com­pa­ny pre­dict­ed back in Jan­u­ary. The com­pa­ny al­so sus­pend­ed fi­nan­cial guid­ance for its Covid-19 vac­cine, as a glob­al sup­ply sur­plus and vac­cine hes­i­tan­cy af­fect de­mand.

How­ev­er, CEO Joaquin Du­a­to main­tained on the Q1 call that the phar­ma gi­ant will be able to do “small, medi­um and large scale ac­qui­si­tions should the right op­por­tu­ni­ty present it­self.”

While For­tune cel­e­brat­ed 44 com­pa­nies on the list that are led by women (an all-time high) on­ly two are from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try: Zoetis, led by Kristin Peck; and Ver­tex Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, led by Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani.

Wal­mart, Ama­zon, Ap­ple and CVS Health topped this year’s For­tune 500 list. Ed­i­tor-in-chief Alyson Shon­tell is al­ready look­ing to see which com­pa­nies will make a come­back this year, say­ing in a news re­lease:

“Sev­er­al pan­dem­ic win­ners make their de­buts this year. Vac­cine mak­er Mod­er­na clocked in at No. 195. Zil­low, which ben­e­fit­ed from the red-hot hous­ing mar­ket, comes in at No. 424. And Coin­base (No. 437) be­came the first cryp­to com­pa­ny to join the 500. […] The re­al win­ners will be the com­pa­nies that not on­ly thrived un­der the freak­ish cir­cum­stances of Covid, but can flour­ish once the world opens back up.”

Cor­rec­tion: RE­GEN-COV brought in $2.3 bil­lion in Q4, and $6.19 bil­lion for the full year. 

How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Fed­er­al judge de­nies Bris­tol My­er­s' at­tempt to avoid Cel­gene share­hold­er law­suit

Some Celgene shareholders aren’t happy with how Bristol Myers Squibb’s takeover went down.

On Friday, a New York federal judge ruled that they have a case against the pharma giant, denying a request to dismiss allegations that it purposely slow-rolled Breyanzi’s approval to avoid paying out $6.4 billion in contingent value rights (CVR).

When Bristol Myers put down $74 billion to scoop up Celgene back in 2019, liso-cel — the CAR-T lymphoma treatment now marketed as Breyanzi — was supposedly one of the centerpieces of the deal. After going back and forth on negotiations for about six months, BMS put $6.4 billion into a CVR agreement that required an FDA approval for Zeposia, Breyanzi and Abecma, each by an established date.

Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Am­gen takes next step with its Chi­na am­bi­tions, out-li­cens­ing drugs to Fo­s­un Phar­ma

In a bid to increase its market share in China, Amgen has agreed to a partnership with a Shanghai biotech — a collaboration and out-licensing agreement for two of its drugs.

Amgen and Fosun Pharma announced a deal Monday in a bid to increase Amgen’s presence in the country. The stated goal so far is to commercialize Amgen’s blockbuster psoriasis drug Otezla alongside Parsabiv, a drug for secondary hyperparathyroidism in adults with chronic kidney disease and on a specific type of dialysis.