The End­points poll: Clin­ton v Trump and wide­spread fret­ting that the FDA just blun­dered bad­ly

Who would be a bet­ter pres­i­dent  for biotech? Hillary Clin­ton or Don­ald Trump? Is there even a dif­fer­ence? And what did the in­dus­try think of that con­tro­ver­sial Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy drug ap­proval? Did it mark a drop in FDA stan­dards? We asked our au­di­ence and heard back — loud and clear.

End­points News pulled off its first snap poll at the end of last week, with pub­lish­er Ar­salan Arif send­ing out a sin­gle query to a tar­get­ed seg­ment from our 10,000 email sub­scribers. About 95% of our au­di­ence is di­rect­ly en­gaged in the bio­phar­ma busi­ness, with a big fo­cus on drug de­vel­op­ment. Our goal: get a sense of the in­dus­try’s think­ing on pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics and that re­cent con­tro­ver­sial FDA OK for the Duchenne drug eteplirsen.

The re­spons­es came in hard and fast, leav­ing lit­tle doubt how the ma­jor­i­ty is feel­ing on both is­sues. Al­to­geth­er, Arif col­lect­ed 494 re­spons­es from qual­i­fied bio­phar­ma in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als.

1. Who would be the bet­ter Pres­i­dent for the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try? (Please, no per­son­al feel­ings.)

Hillary Clin­ton 52% 259
Don­ald Trump 27% 134
No dif­fer­ence 20% 101
To­tal 494

First, on the elec­tion. Rather than sim­ply ask who peo­ple are plan­ning to vote for, we went for a some­what dif­fer­ent take. Who do you think will most like­ly be bet­ter for biotech? Don­ald Trump or Hillary Clin­ton? A slight, over­all ma­jor­i­ty marked Clin­ton as the bet­ter of the two can­di­dates for the in­dus­try. Trump came in at about half that num­ber. And he beat out “no dif­fer­ence” by a mere 7 points, with 1 in 5 fail­ing to see any kind ad­van­tage in one over the oth­er.

Clin­ton may be win­ning the biotech vote, but with so many dis­af­fect­ed pro­fes­sion­als un­able to mark a pref­er­ence, you can’t say that any kind of ma­jor­i­ty is over-the-moon about the idea of a Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy. Trump, though, is a dis­tant sec­ond in the hearts of the biotech in­dus­try. Come the No­vem­ber elec­tion, Clin­ton takes the biotech vote — heav­i­ly clus­tered in De­mo­c­ra­t­ic strong­holds like Boston and the Bay Area — in a cake walk.

2. Should the FDA have ap­proved Ex­ondys 51/eteplirsen?

All Clin­ton + Trump + No diff.
No 66% (324) 67% (173) 65% (87) 63% (64)
Yes 34% (170) 33% (86) 35% (47) 37% (37)

There’s no doubt­ing how to in­ter­pret these num­bers. Two thirds of the peo­ple we polled felt that the FDA should not have ap­proved Sarep­ta’s Ex­ondys 51 (eteplirsen). This was a non-par­ti­san fa­vorite. There was vir­tu­al­ly no dif­fer­ence on which way they leaned on the pres­i­den­tial show­down, ei­ther. Whether they thought Trump or Clin­ton was bet­ter for biotech, the ma­jor­i­ty clear­ly felt that the agency had made a mis­take.

Sarep­ta helped fo­ment one of the biggest pa­tient ad­vo­ca­cy cam­paigns ever mount­ed for an ap­proval. But sev­er­al top FDA of­fi­cials made it clear that the com­pa­ny had nev­er suc­cess­ful­ly made its case for this drug. FDA Com­mis­sion­er Robert Califf al­so cit­ed the com­pa­ny for play­ing fast and loose with some of the da­ta the com­pa­ny used to make its case with pa­tients and in­vestors. But he bowed to the de­ci­sion made by CDER di­rec­tor Janet Wood­cock. And that, says the ma­jor­i­ty, was a mis­take.

3. Did the ap­proval of Ex­ondys 51/eteplirsen mark a drop in the FDA’s stan­dards?

All Wrong ap­proval Right ap­proval
Yes 68% (337) 92% (299) 22% (38)
No 32% (157) 8% (25) 78% (132)

Rough­ly the same num­ber of in­dus­try pros who ob­ject­ed to the ap­proval al­so con­clud­ed that the con­di­tion­al ap­proval for mar­ket­ing marked a drop in the agency’s stan­dards. It is note­wor­thy, though, that 22% of the in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als who felt it was the right de­ci­sion al­so felt that it marked a drop in ap­proval stan­dards. A much small­er per­cent­age of the “wrong” vote – 8% – did not feel that it re­flect­ed a drop in stan­dards.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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The Avance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Iron­wood kicks de­layed-re­lease Linzess for­mu­la­tion to the curb af­ter tri­al fail­ure

The delayed-release formulation of Ironwood and Allergan’s bowel drug Linzess will not see the light of day.

The experimental drug, MD-7246, failed to help patients with abdominal pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) in a mid-stage study, prompting the partners to abandon the therapy.

First approved in 2012, Linzess (known chemically as linaclotide) enhances the activity of the intestinal enzyme guanylate cyclase-C to increase the secretion of intestinal fluid and then transit through the intestinal tract, as well as reduce visceral pain, to relieve pain and constipation associated with IBS.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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Bryan Roberts, Venrock

Ven­rock sur­vey shows grow­ing recog­ni­tion of coro­n­avirus toll, wan­ing con­fi­dence in ar­rival of vac­cines and treat­ments

When Venrock partner Bryan Roberts went to check the results from their annual survey of healthcare leaders, what he found was an imprint of the pandemic’s slow arrival in America.

The venture firm had sent their form out to hundreds of insurance and health tech executives, investors, officials and academics on February 24 and gave them two weeks to fill it out. No Americans had died at that point but the coronavirus had become enough of a global crisis that they included two questions about the virus, including “Total U.S. deaths in 2020 from the novel coronavirus will be:”.