'We strong­ly dis­sent': Women biotech ex­ecs pen let­ter to col­leagues and politi­cians in Roe v. Wade af­ter­math

In the days fol­low­ing the US Supreme Court’s roll­back of fed­er­al abor­tion rights, more than  100 women biotech ex­ec­u­tives came to­geth­er in an open let­ter to con­demn the rul­ing and tell their fel­low drug de­vel­op­ment lead­ers that they “will not stand by silent­ly.”

Ad­dressed to in­dus­try, friends, leg­is­la­tors and elect­ed of­fi­cials, the biotech ex­ec­u­tives said they were join­ing “the re­sound­ing mil­lions in cho­rus” by show­ing their “pro­found dis­may and dis­ap­point­ment” at the de­ci­sion hand­ed down by SCO­TUS last week, a re­ver­sal of Roe v. Wade that had been an­tic­i­pat­ed for weeks fol­low­ing a court leak.

The let­ter — signed by the CEOs of Blade, In­Car­da, Daré Bio­science and a host of oth­er biotechs —  called out the rul­ing’s im­pact on the med­ical prac­ti­tion­ers who are “best suit­ed to pro­vide care.”

Since its orig­i­nal post­ing on Fri­day, the let­ter has grown from about 70 sig­na­to­ries to more than 100, “with mul­ti­ple oth­ers want­i­ng to sign and many view­ing this as a ral­ly­ing point for fur­ther ac­tion,” Re­Code Ther­a­peu­tics CEO Shehnaaz Suli­man told End­points News in an email. The lead­ers said the rul­ing fo­cus­es on the “spe­cial in­ter­ests of the few rather than the in­ter­ests of the ma­jor­i­ty.”

“Abor­tion is re­pro­duc­tive health­care. As doc­tors, sci­en­tists, in­no­va­tors, care­givers, lead­ers and al­lies who are at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion in sci­ence and med­i­cine for the ben­e­fit of pa­tients and women around the world — we de­cry and de­nounce the de­ci­sion by the Court,” the let­ter reads in part.

The let­ter did not point to any de­fin­i­tive or di­rect steps the in­dus­try can take in re­sponse to the rul­ing. Some bio­phar­mas have joined with oth­er com­pa­nies in say­ing they’ll cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el ex­pens­es for em­ploy­ees.

“The mes­sage we have ar­tic­u­lat­ed is one so many women want to add their voice to. The notes I have re­ceived in­clude ex­pres­sions of anger and help­less­ness, but al­so a de­sire to do some­thing and be part of fur­ther ac­tion. I tru­ly hope this let­ter is just the start,” Ju­lia Owens, for­mer Mil­len­do Ther­a­peu­tics CEO, said in an email to End­points News. Mul­ti­ple ad­di­tion­al lead­ers have reached out to Owens ask­ing to add their names, she said.

With dozens of lead­ers from var­i­ous back­grounds join­ing to­geth­er, the let­ter calls for free­dom of choice over one’s own body for every­one, “but es­pe­cial­ly for women, un­der­rep­re­sent­ed mi­nori­ties, and LGBTQIA+ com­mu­ni­ties.”

Shehnaaz Suli­man

In post­ing the let­ter to LinkedIn, Suli­man asked oth­er lead­ers to “join a sea of voic­es to am­pli­fy the call for re­pro­duc­tive health rights for all women.”

A por­tion of the women who signed the let­ter had come to­geth­er for a week­end con­fer­ence in March aimed at form­ing a net­work, spon­sor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of women lead­ers and map­ping out re­gion­al mee­tups, in­clud­ing one that took place dur­ing BIO last month in San Diego.

In­dus­try lead­ers pre­vi­ous­ly came to­geth­er in Feb­ru­ary to pen a let­ter urg­ing busi­ness lead­ers to “eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­en­gage from Russ­ian In­dus­try” fol­low­ing the in­va­sion of Ukraine.

Ed­i­tor’s note: This sto­ry was up­dat­ed to in­clude ad­di­tion­al in­for­ma­tion from Ju­lia Owens and Shehnaaz Suli­man.

Kenji Yasukawa, Astellas Pharma CEO (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Astel­las taps chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer as next CEO to 'go on the ag­gres­sive'

Five years into its big R&D revamp, Astellas says it’s time for a changing of the guard.

Kenji Yasukawa, who took over as president and CEO in 2018, will step down to become chairman of the board in April, making room for Naoki Okamura to take over. Okamura joined the company in 1986 and has served in a variety of finance, business and strategy roles, including most recently as chief strategy officer.

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Jean-Paul Clozel, Idorsia CEO (Patrick Straub/Keystone via AP Images)

Idor­si­a's brain bleed drug flunks PhI­II tri­al, a decade af­ter pre­vi­ous flop

Idorsia’s long journey with clazosentan came to an abrupt “unexpected result” Monday morning with a Phase III flop.

The Swiss biopharma said the drug did not meet the main goal of the late-stage REACT study, conducted in the US, Canada and Europe since early 2019.

The 409-patient trial tested the intravenous drug’s ability to prevent complications due to delayed cerebral ischemia following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH), in which blood vessels in the brain narrow and blood accumulates around the brain’s surface, which then dials up the pressure on the brain.

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Clin­i­cal tri­al di­ver­si­ty da­ta show mis­match be­tween en­roll­ment and dis­ease preva­lence, GSK says

A lack of diversity in clinical trials has persisted despite decades of initiatives to try to turn the tide.

In a recent review of 17 years of clinical trials, drugmaker GSK found that there were some mismatches between the demographics of its US-based trials and how prevalent diseases were in those populations.

The results, the company says, will help GSK and others design studies that better represent epidemiological rates within races and ethnicities.

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Simba Gill, Evelo Biosciences CEO

Sim­ba Gill stay­ing on at Evelo to weath­er lay­offs and a PhII fail

Simba Gill will be staying put as CEO of Evelo Biosciences for now.

Gill announced last year that he would be leaving the head position at Evelo to take on the role of executive partner at Flagship Pioneering. He was aiming to stay on until a successor was selected, but there’s a new course of action in the wake of a Phase II miss and a reduced headcount.

“I want to emphasize that I remain personally committed to Evelo and staying on to lead the organization. I continue to believe that Evelo is a remarkable opportunity in terms of the science, the platform, the type of products that we’re able to produce, and most importantly, the potential of millions of patients suffering from all stages of inflammatory disease,” Gill said on a conference call.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

John Roberts, exiting Vyant Bio CEO

Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech Vyant warns of po­ten­tial wind-down

The CEO and chief scientific officer of Vyant Bio are out the door as the little-known but publicly-listed neurodegenerative biotech searches for an exit or, if all else fails, a wind-down.

The soul-searching bookends a winding journey for the biotech, which rebranded and transitioned from diagnostics company Cancer Genetics in 2021 after a merger with StemoniX. That came after a failed merger attempt with NovellusDx (now Fore Biotherapeutics) in 2018. In the last few years, units have been sold off and the stock price $VYNT has plummeted from the $30 range to penny stock territory.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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