Glax­o­SmithK­line R&D re­or­ga­ni­za­tion trig­gers lay­offs at Steve­nage -- and Up­per Prov­i­dence

GSK’s new R&D chief Hal Bar­ron has made no se­cret of the fact that he has a keen in­ter­est in re­fo­cus­ing the R&D group at the phar­ma gi­ant. And that’s start­ing to play out with some lay­offs in its big R&D cen­ter at GSK’s Steve­nage cam­pus as well as its sec­ond big hub near Philadel­phia.

The phar­ma gi­ant put out a state­ment ear­li­er to­day not­ing that a “small num­ber” of roles would be af­fect­ed by the lay­offs in Steve­nage. Their state­ment:

“We have iden­ti­fied where changes are nec­es­sary to en­sure we can ful­ly sup­port our evolv­ing pipeline pri­or­i­ties. We an­tic­i­pate a small num­ber of roles will be di­rect­ly im­pact­ed by these changes but con­tin­ue to ex­pect GSK’s R&D op­er­a­tions to grow over­all with in­creased in­vest­ment.”

In a fol­lowup ex­change, the me­dia team at Glax­o­SmithK­line con­firmed to me that the lay­offs ex­tend to Up­per Prov­i­dence in Penn­syl­va­nia, where GSK con­cen­trat­ed its sec­ond big cam­pus af­ter a re­struc­tur­ing hit op­er­a­tions in North Car­oli­na sev­er­al years ago.

GSK is abuzz about the cuts. Ac­cord­ing to some in­di­vid­u­als fa­mil­iar with the cut­backs, Bar­ron is ax­ing some 240 to 250 staffers in Up­per Prov­i­dence and Steve­nage. That in­cludes a heavy con­cen­tra­tion on chemists, in­clud­ing a few se­nior chemists in the group. Some ad­min­is­tra­tive staffers are al­so get­ting hit.

The R&D group is hir­ing, though, as the group con­tin­ues to shift fo­cus, and the com­pa­ny will like­ly end up at about the same head count in R&D as it had go­ing in­to the re­struc­tur­ing.

Hal Bar­ron

Bar­ron’s key in­ter­est right now is on­col­o­gy, a field where he built his in­ter­na­tion­al rep at Genen­tech. Un­der his guid­ance, GSK bought out Tesaro — fo­cused on PARP — and start­ed do­ing deals in the field, beef­ing up the ear­ly-stage work that was left at the com­pa­ny af­ter its big swap with No­var­tis a few years ago.

In­sid­ers will be look­ing to see if any of the lay­offs in­volve the res­pi­ra­to­ry re­search field, where GSK has been vis­i­bly back­ing away from.

GSK is a top-15 R&D group in the glob­al in­dus­try, but it’s al­ways per­formed with a care­ful eye on the bot­tom line and the part the R&D bud­get plays in that. As a re­sult, when the com­pa­ny ex­pands in one di­rec­tion, it con­tracts in an­oth­er.

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric (Photo Credit: Andrew Venditti)

Pssst: That big Bio­haven Alzheimer's study? It was a bust. Even the sub­group analy­sis ex­ecs tout­ed was a flop

You know it’s bad when a biopharma player plucks out a subgroup analysis for a positive take — even though it was way off the statistical mark for success, like everything else.

So it was for Biohaven $BHVN on MLK Monday, as the biotech reported on the holiday that their Phase II/III Alzheimer’s study for troriluzole flunked both co-primary endpoints as well as a key biomarker analysis.

The drug — a revised version of the ALS drug riluzole designed to regulate glutamate — did not “statistically differentiate” from placebo on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale 11 (ADAS-cog) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB).  The “hippocampal volume” assessment by MRI also failed to distinguish itself from placebo for all patients fitting the mild-to-moderate disease profile they had established for the study.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

As of now, the competition for the top job appears to have narrowed down to 2 people: The longtime CDER chief Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, the former principal deputy at the FDA under Peggy Hamburg. Both were appointed by Barack Obama.

Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO (Lilly via Facebook)

Eli Lil­ly tees up dis­cov­ery pact worth more than $1.6B with Merus for T cell-fo­cused bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies

Under science chief Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly has taken some big swings at next-gen therapies, including trying to find the next big thing in oncology. Now, after one early failure in the field, Lilly is going back to the bispecific antibody well with a new deal with a Dutch biotech.

Lilly will pay $40 million upfront with an additional $20 million equity stake in Merus NV to identify and develop three bispecific antibodies looking to engage the CD3 antigen on T cells and redirect immune cells, the Indianapolis pharma giant said Tuesday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Andrew Allen (Gritstone)

As coro­n­avirus vari­ants trig­ger new alarms, the NIH is putting an un­der-the-radar ‘next-gen’ vac­cine in­to PhI

Over the past year, the world has been transfixed by the development of new vaccines to fight SARS-CoV-2. In a frenzy of activity, the new mRNA approach has delivered pioneering emergency approvals in record time. And with some setbacks, the more traditional big players are coming along with added jabs as the most affluent nations in the world begin to vaccinate large portions of their populations.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

The IPO queue adds 5 more biotechs hop­ing to ring in 2021 by blitz­ing Nas­daq

Following a record year for IPOs — in terms of both proceeds and count — there’s already a long lineup of biotechs ready to jump onto Nasdaq in the new year. The companies are likely looking for much higher raises than they initially projected on their S-1s. Now it’s time to see if investors are still hungry for another round of biotech stocks.

Sana helped set the pace early on, as its founders look to divvy up a fortune from their IPO. And late last week 5 more biotechs crowded in, looking to pick up the pace where 2020 left off. Here they are:

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

News brief­ing: Beam bags a $260M pri­vate place­ment; mi­Ra­gen re­brands to Virid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics

Agios vet John Evans has demonstrated how to raise big money for a little biotech.

The Beam Therapeutics CEO — and ARCH partner — has pieced together a $260 million private placement from a group of backers that includes Perceptive Advisors, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, Redmile Group and Cormorant Asset Management. And there are 3 main goals they’ll pursue with it: clinical development, strategic partnerships and general corporate purposes.

As­traZeneca keeps the ball rolling on Dai­ichi-part­nered En­her­tu, pick­ing up 2nd in­di­ca­tion in gas­tric can­cer

AstraZeneca’s big gamble on Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu has already paid off with a big approval in breast cancer more than a year ago. But the partners have big plans for their blockbuster in the making, and a new nod in gastric cancer will raise their spirits even higher.

The FDA on Friday approved Enhertu to treat locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma in patients who have previously undergone at least one round of treatment with a Herceptin-based regimen, AstraZeneca said in a release.

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

Janet Wood­cock is in the run­ning for FDA com­mis­sion­er — what does that mean for the agen­cy's fu­ture?

Just a day after reports emerged that Janet Woodcock will serve as interim chief of the FDA, word has gotten out that she is also in the running for the permanent job.

The decision, as the initial wave of reactions suggest, could have dramatic implications for where the agency is headed in the next four years — if not beyond.

Woodcock, the longtime CDER director, is being vetted alongside former FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, Bloomberg reported. Already tapped as acting head of the agency, she’s set to take over from Stephen Hahn right after Biden’s inauguration next week.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 98,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.