Un­de­terred by a pan­dem­ic, Gilde Health­care rais­es their largest fund yet

Pieter van der Meer, Gilde

When Pieter van der Meer start­ed rais­ing the cap­i­tal for Gilde Health­care’s fifth fund in the wan­ing months of 2019, he had his eyes on a dif­fer­ent chain of events that could change the health­care sys­tem and per­haps even play to his firm’s ad­van­tage: The US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Since rais­ing their third fund in 2011, the 34-year-old Dutch firm had fo­cused on val­ue-based care. They chose late-stage biotechs that came up with new de­vices and de­liv­ery sys­tems for de-risked es­tab­lished com­pounds, and when they chose pre­clin­i­cal biotechs, they spoke with po­ten­tial phar­ma part­ners, pay­ers and reg­u­la­tors to ask where and at what prices the drug made sense. As the De­mo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry be­came a con­test over how to low­er health­care costs, it looked like a strat­e­gy that could pay off.

“With the chang­ing health­care sys­tem in the US and the elec­tions com­ing up,” van der Meer, Gilde’s gen­er­al part­ner, told End­points News, “we feel that we have a strat­e­gy that could be sound and pro­vides our com­pa­ny a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage go­ing for­ward.”

To­day, Gilde un­veiled the fund: an over­sub­scribed, €416 mil­lion ($450 mil­lion) pot that more than dou­bles their pre­vi­ous record. The US pres­i­den­tial race, of course, has been es­sen­tial­ly on hold for a month as Covid-19 swept the globe and Amer­i­ca and Eu­rope have gone on se­mi-lock­down, sput­ter­ing the world econ­o­my with un­prece­dent­ed speed and caus­ing de­lays in once-steady clin­i­cal tri­al time­lines.

Gilde, though, says the pan­dem­ic’s main im­pact on them and their fund is that they’ve had to hold dis­cus­sions and sign pa­per­work with in­vestors re­mote­ly. In fact, van der Meer said, they had a set goal of €350 mil­lion and a hard cap of €400 mil­lion be­fore de­cid­ing to lift for some long-sought in­vestors.

The fund on­ly clos­es this week, mean­ing those in­vestors — which in­clude a Eu­ro­pean buf­fet of Dan­ish and Bel­gian growth funds, The Nether­lands’ Roy­al Philips and Rabo Cor­po­rate In­vest­ments, and Ger­many’s Haniel and KfW Cap­i­tal — could’ve backed out. In­stead, he said, they told him their fund was more need­ed now than ever.

“The par­ties ob­vi­ous­ly had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to make up their minds un­til the last minute,” van der Meer said. “None of the par­ties tried to wait.”

Gilde fo­cus­es on an ar­ray of health­care fields. Their pre­vi­ous biotech in­vest­ments in­clude AM-Phar­ma, which to­day an­nounced a $176 mil­lion raise to bring their acute kid­ney in­jury treat­ment in­to a Phase III tri­al, and Pro­QR Ther­a­peu­tics, which un­veiled to­day pos­i­tive Phase I/II da­ta. They al­so in­vest­ed in In­phar­mat­i­ca — a bioin­for­mat­ics com­pa­ny ac­quired by Gala­pa­gos – Breath Ther­a­peu­tics, Evotec and San­taris.

Van de Meer said they are con­tin­u­ing to watch the US elec­tions close­ly and will con­tin­ue the ap­proach that un­der­gird­ed those in­vest­ments, par­tic­u­lar­ly the fo­cus on val­ue-based care. But they would al­so look in­to Covid-19 re­lat­ed op­por­tu­ni­ties as com­pa­nies con­tin­ue to ad­vance ther­a­peu­tics, vac­cines, di­ag­nos­tics and ways of mon­i­tor­ing pa­tients re­mote­ly.

That’s al­ready be­gun, he said, but it will con­tin­ue long af­ter the worst of the Covid-19 cri­sis is over.

“That is hope­ful­ly go­ing to dis­ap­pear and be­come less of an is­sue,” he said. “But there will be oth­er virus­es at­tack­ing the world pop­u­la­tion and all the plat­forms we are look­ing at have ap­pli­ca­tions in that space.”

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

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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.

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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)

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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

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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:”.