Tread­ing on Nas­daq turf, NYSE cuts list­ing fees to woo biotech

By cut­ting its fees for com­pa­nies with lit­tle to no rev­enue, the New York Stock Ex­change (NYSE) is lay­ing the ground­work to break Nas­daq’s strong hold on the biotech in­dus­try.

Cheap­er list­ing fees, rel­a­tive­ly lax list­ing stan­dards and the chance to be fea­tured on the Nas­daq Biotech­nol­o­gy In­dex has tra­di­tion­al­ly made Nas­daq the biotech list­ing venue of choice. The ra­tio­nale is sound: Drug de­vel­op­ment is not cheap, and ne­ces­si­tates pa­tience. Biotech firms are typ­i­cal­ly in the red for years be­fore they are ready to take their first drug across the fin­ish line.

NYSE’s new rules — which will re­duce the fees for com­pa­nies with an­nu­al rev­enue of less than $5 mil­lion and have a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of at least $200 mil­lion — are set to go in­to force next month. The bourse is of­fer­ing such firms a 75% dis­count off its an­nu­al list­ing fee, as well as cap­ping an­nu­al list­ing fees at $100,000, for three years, NYSE dis­closed in an SEC fil­ing.

“We are pro­vid­ing an im­proved on-ramp for biotech com­pa­nies look­ing to ac­cess the pub­lic mar­kets,” said John Tut­tle, NYSE chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, in an emailed state­ment to End­points News.

The largest com­pa­nies pay as much as $500,000 a year to list on the NYSE, while the Nas­daq — which in­vent­ed elec­tron­ic trad­ing in 1971 — caps its list­ing fees at $155,000. NYSE has long lost out to its main ri­val due to its stricter list­ing stan­dards, but it has been tak­ing steps to re­lax those re­quire­ments to take a bite out of Nas­daq’s stran­gle­hold on cer­tain in­dus­tries.

Over­all, health-and-care fo­cused firms — in­clud­ing biotechs, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, med­ical de­vice mak­ers, health­care ser­vices and health in­sur­ers — have over­whelm­ing­ly pre­ferred list­ing on Nas­daq, whose web­site shows 757 such com­pa­nies have cho­sen the stock ex­change. Mean­while, a mere 105 have adopt­ed NYSE.

In fact, since the Hong Kong stock ex­change opened up the list­ing regime to pre-rev­enue biotechs, nine com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing one CRO gi­ant — have joined the bourse in the past year, the South Chi­na Morn­ing Post re­port­ed last month. These com­pa­nies col­lec­tive­ly have raised $3.8 bil­lion in IPO pro­ceeds — mak­ing Hong Kong the sec­ond largest pub­lic biotech hub world­wide af­ter Nas­daq, the re­port not­ed, cit­ing Re­fini­tiv da­ta.

Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics made its Nas­daq de­but on Thurs­day, mark­ing the 16th biotech IPO of 2019 — con­tribut­ing to a to­tal of $1.6 bil­lion raised so far. Each of these 16 pre-rev­enue drug de­vel­op­ers has cho­sen to align it­self with Nas­daq.

Im­age: SHUT­TER­STOCK

Van­da shares slide af­ter FDA spurns their big end­point and re­jects a pitch on jet lag re­lief

Back in the spring of last year, Vanda Pharmaceuticals $VNDA served up a hot stew of mixed data for a slate of endpoints related to what they called clear evidence that their melatonin sleep drug Hetlioz (tasimelteon) could help millions of travelers suffering from jet lag.

Never mind that they couldn’t get a planned 90 people in the study, settling for 25 instead; Vanda CEO Mihael H. Polymeropoulos said they were building on a body of data to prove it would help jet-lagged patients looking for added sleep benefits. And that, they added, would be worth a major upgrade from the agency as they sought to tackle a big market.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan [via Bloomberg/Getty]

I’m not per­fect: No­var­tis chief Vas Narasimhan al­most apol­o­gizes in the wake of a new cri­sis

Vas Narasimhan has warily stepped up with what might pass as something close to a borderline apology for the latest scandal to engulf Novartis.

But he couldn’t quite get there.

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UP­DAT­ED: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

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Health­i­er, longer lifes­pans will be a re­al­i­ty soon­er than you think, Ju­ve­nes­cence promis­es as it clos­es $100M round

Earlier this year, an executive from Juvenescence-backed AgeX predicted the field of longevity will eventually “dwarf the dotcom boom.” Greg Bailey, the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO, certainly hopes so.

On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017. Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer and Amarin.

UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

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UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

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Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.