Three De­mo­c­rat reps op­pose Medicare drug pric­ing plan; Alpine Im­mune an­nounces pri­vate place­ment

A trio of key De­moc­rats said yes­ter­day they will op­pose their par­ty’s plan to low­er drug prices — cre­at­ing a sub­stan­tial road­block for the De­moc­rats’ — and the White House’s — de­sired $3.5 tril­lion tax and spend­ing pack­age.

Ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post, Reps. Scott Pe­ters (D-Calif.), Kath­leen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrad­er (D-Ore.) have con­cerns about giv­ing Medicare the au­thor­i­ty to ne­go­ti­ate di­rect­ly with drug com­pa­nies.

With the De­moc­rats’ slim ma­jor­i­ty in the House, De­moc­rats can­not lose an­oth­er vote on the drug-pric­ing plan if it is to be in­clud­ed in their mas­sive so­cial spend­ing plan — and oth­er mem­bers of the par­ty have ex­pressed their own con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to the Post.

The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try and Re­pub­li­cans have strong­ly op­posed the drug pric­ing plan, as­sert­ing it will hurt the in­dus­try’s abil­i­ty to de­vel­op drugs. That ar­gu­ment was echoed by the trio of De­mo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers.

“I sup­port many of the pro­pos­als be­ing con­sid­ered this week, but I do not sup­port ad­vanc­ing poli­cies that are not fis­cal­ly re­spon­si­ble and jeop­ar­dize the [Build Back Bet­ter Act] bill’s fi­nal pas­sage,” Rice said in a state­ment.

Alpine Im­mune Sci­ences se­cures $91M pri­vate of­fer­ing

Seat­tle biotech Alpine Im­mune Sci­ences is in the mid­dle of a pri­vate place­ment, rais­ing gross pro­ceeds to Alpine of ap­prox­i­mate­ly $91 mil­lion.

The raise is be­ing led by Fra­zier with par­tic­i­pa­tion from Decheng Cap­i­tal, BVF Part­ners, TCG X and oth­ers.

“We are pleased to lead this syn­di­cate of strong in­vestors and look for­ward to sup­port­ing the com­pa­ny in this next phase of growth,” said James Top­per, man­ag­ing gen­er­al part­ner for Fra­zier’s Life Sci­ences team, in a state­ment.

The pri­vate of­fer­ing will close on Fri­day, which is when Alpine will is­sue 6.5 mil­lion shares of com­mon stock and ap­prox­i­mate­ly 3.2 mil­lion pre-fund­ed war­rants at $9.40 — a 4.4% pre­mi­um over the clos­ing price of $9.00 on Tues­day. The stock price peaked at $9.74 af­ter the mar­kets opened this morn­ing.

Alpine in­tends to use the net pro­ceeds to ex­pand its pipeline, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing drug can­di­date ALPN-303 for lu­pus and oth­er in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Den­mark's Gubra to col­lab­o­rate with Bay­er on pep­tides; Sam­sung and Bio­gen re­ceive FDA ap­proval for Lu­cen­tis biosim­i­lar

Danish biotech Gubra announced a research collaboration and license agreement with Bayer to develop peptide therapeutics to treat cardiorenal diseases. The collaboration will utilize Gubra’s peptide drug discovery platform to identify potential candidates.

This is not the first time Gubra has partnered with a company on peptide therapeutics — they partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim back in 2017 to create peptide therapeutics to treat obesity.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.