Will Downie, Vectura Group CEO (Vectura)

Three years af­ter piv­ot­ing out of dis­as­ter, Vec­tura gets a $1.4B pri­vate eq­ui­ty buy­out

Three years ago, af­ter a sec­ond of Vec­tura’s Phase III can­di­dates crashed and burned, the British biotech de­cid­ed that, you know, maybe this whole drug de­vel­op­ment thing wasn’t for them. They hired a new CEO from Catal­ent and an­nounced they would fo­cus on just help­ing man­u­fac­ture the drugs that oth­er com­pa­nies de­vel­oped.

That shift has now paid off hand­some­ly. Vec­tura an­nounced Wednes­day that the pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm Car­lyle Group agreed to buy them out for $1.4 bil­lion, or a 32% pre­mi­um on the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket val­ue en­ter­ing to­day. The price per share, $161, is more than dou­ble what Vec­tura $VEC trad­ed for in win­ter of 2018, be­fore they re­brand­ed as a CD­MO.

For Car­lyle, Vec­tura adds to a grow­ing sta­ble of biotech and drug de­vel­op­ment ser­vices the firm has built up over the last decade, since it ac­quired PPD, the mas­sive CRO, for $3.9 bil­lion in 2011. In 2017, they spent near­ly a $1 bil­lion for the CRO AM­RI, and added a ma­jor­i­ty stake in TriNetX three years lat­er. Last month, they shelled out $435 mil­lion for Un­chained Labs and their line of gene ther­a­py and vac­cine ser­vices.

Vec­tura, hav­ing tried to de­vel­oped asth­ma and COPD drugs, spe­cial­izes in in­haled med­i­cines. Now led by for­mer Catal­ent ex­ec Will Down­ie, they promise to help drug­mak­ers for­mu­late their mol­e­cules for in­halers or neb­u­liz­ers, while of­fer­ing ser­vices to help com­pa­nies scale up their man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es and an­a­lyze their fin­ished prod­ucts.

Late last year, they an­nounced plans to ex­pand their UK fa­cil­i­ties to tack­le a broad­er range of ser­vices.

Si­mon Dinge­mans

The com­pa­ny al­ready works with Bay­er, No­var­tis, and Glax­o­SmithK­line — against whom they re­cent­ly won a $90 mil­lion court bat­tle — among oth­ers. Si­mon Dinge­mans, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Car­lyle’s Eu­ro­pean buy­out ad­vi­so­ry group, ar­gued the buy­out would al­low them to ex­pand fur­ther.

“We have fol­lowed the strate­gic changes un­der­way at Vec­tura close­ly and ful­ly sup­port the fo­cus on build­ing a mar­ket lead­ing in­hala­tion spe­cial­ist CD­MO,” he said. “We be­lieve that un­der Car­lyle’s own­er­ship Vec­tura will be able to ac­cel­er­ate its trans­for­ma­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly with greater ac­cess to cap­i­tal and the sup­port of our long ex­pe­ri­ence in the sec­tor.”

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Mathai Mammen (Rob Tannenbaum, Endpoints News at BIO 2018)

Math­ai Mam­men makes an abrupt ex­it as head of the big R&D group at J&J

In an after-the-bell shocker, J&J announced Monday evening that Mathai Mammen has abruptly exited J&J as head of its top-10 R&D group.

Recruited from Merck five years ago, where the soft-spoken Mammen was being groomed as the successor to Roger Perlmutter, he had been one of the top-paid R&D chiefs in biopharma. His group spent $12 billion last year on drug development, putting it in the top 5 in the industry.

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Robert Califf, FDA commissioner (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Hop­ing to ex­pand mon­key­pox vac­cine sup­ply, US paves the way for new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion

After making it clear that the US’ current monkeypox vaccine supply is insufficient, the FDA on Tuesday authorized a new route of administration that should increase the number of available doses by five-fold.

Regulators cleared Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine for intradermal injection in adults older than 18. Unlike subcutaneous injection — the current method by which vaccine is delivered under the skin — an intradermal jab goes directly into the skin. It’s believed that this method requires less vaccine, since the dermis is rich in dendritic cells which specialize in taking up foreign antigens and presenting them to the immune system, according to Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Ted Love, Global Blood Therapeutics CEO

Up­dat­ed: Pfiz­er scoops up Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics and its sick­le cell ther­a­pies for $5.4B

Pfizer is dropping $5.4 billion to acquire Global Blood Therapeutics.

Just ahead of the weekend, word got out that Pfizer was close to clinching a $5 billion buyout — albeit with other potential buyers still at the table. The pharma giant, flush with cash from Covid-19 vaccine sales, apparently got out on top.

The deal immediately swells Pfizer’s previously tiny sickle cell disease portfolio from just a Phase I program to one with an approved drug, Oxbryta, plus a whole pipeline that, if all approved, the company believes could make for a $3 billion franchise at peak.

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Samantha Du, Zai Lab CEO

Any­one still look­ing for a CD47? Zai Lab shelves PhI pro­gram af­ter re­view­ing 'com­pet­i­tive land­scape'

Over the past few years, the promise of blocking CD47 — a “don’t eat me” signal co-opted by cancer cells — has sent drugmakers big and small into a frenzy. But one biotech is now bowing out.

Zai Lab is deprioritizing ZL-1201, its CD47 inhibitor, scrapping plans for a Phase II trial. It will now “pursue out-licensing opportunities,” the company said in its Q2 update. The decision was based on a review of the competitive landscape, it added, without going into further details.

Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Craig Thompson, Cerevance CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck makes first big splash for Alzheimer’s drug R&D since 2017 fail, ink­ing re­search pact with Cere­vance

For the first time since discontinuing its late-stage Alzheimer’s program, Merck has found promise on the path forward in the memory-robbing disease.

After a Phase III flop of its drug verubecestat, the New Jersey Big Pharma axed the study in early 2018. More than four years later, the company is ready to sign up for another pact to test the waters of the befuddling disease.

This time, there’s $1.1 billion in biobucks on the line and a target that its partner says no other biopharma is looking at en route to finding the next treatment for Alzheimer’s, a neuroscience field that has hit hurdle after hurdle for decades.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Break­ing: Pfiz­er in hot pur­suit of a $5B buy­out of Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has vowed to leave no stone unturned in the search for new biotech deals, and the BD team is not letting him down.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Pfizer is in the final stages of acquiring Global Blood Therapeutics for $5 billion. According to the Journal report, though, Pfizer is not the only buyer at the deal table and while the pharma giant may be close to clinching it, there are no guarantees it will continue.

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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

US weighs new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion for mon­key­pox vac­cine as cas­es climb — re­port

Less than a week after HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra declared monkeypox a national health emergency, reports have emerged that the US plans to extend its vaccine supply by opting for a different route of administration.

Officials are expected to call for intradermal injection of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine — the only shot approved specifically for monkeypox in the US — as opposed to subcutaneous injection, unnamed sources told both the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday.