Vivek Ramaswamy bags option rights on Daiichi’s pipeline drugs; Achillion drops a lead program; Ziopharm creates new development company for China
→ No longer content to pick off 1 drug at a time for his growing stable of companies, Roivant chief Vivek Ramaswamy has struck a deal that gives him options on a slate of programs in development at Daiichi Sankyo. And he can use these new drugs to seed the pipelines of his future startups.
→ At a time high insulin prices have become a lightning rod issue in the US, Novartis is teaming up with China’s Gan & Lee to provide cheaper knockoffs of three big brands.
→ Despite encouraging data from a tiny open-label trial showing its oral complement inhibitor could stand on its own as a treatment for paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria, Achillion Pharmaceuticals is halting this particular program in face of Alexion’s continued dominance in the field. The company is however keeping ACH-4471 in PNH patients not responding to Soliris, and as monotherapy in another disease known as C3 glomerulopathy. There’s also the next-gen, though earlier stage, candidate ACH-5228, which execs hope would prove more competitive against Soliris.
→ Ziopharm and the cell therapy company TriArm, formed by a fund managed by Kleiner Perkins managing partner James Huang, have formed a new company to lead the development and commercialization of “Sleeping Beauty-generated CAR-T therapies.” TriArm is committing up to $35 million to the venture.
→ Betting on the RIG-I pathway in immunotherapy, Pfizer $PFE is getting its hands on Kineta’s screening platform as well as related compounds and technologies. Kineta, which is receiving $15 million upfront for the deal plus $505 million in potential milestones, will conduct target-related research funded by the pharma giant for three years, after which Pfizer will take over development and commercialization.