David Simmons. PPD via YouTube

What are bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies hir­ing CROs for these days? PPD spells it out in bid for $100M IPO

More than eight years af­ter PPD was tak­en pri­vate in a $3.9 bil­lion deal, the 35-years-old con­tract re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion is brac­ing for the pub­lic mar­ket again with a $100 mil­lion ask.

Hav­ing served all of the top 50 bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies in the world by R&D spend­ing and over 300 biotech fledg­lings, PPD’s fil­ings high­light­ed the en­trenched role CROs play in an in­dus­try chas­ing an ever dwin­dling re­turn on in­vest­ment by push­ing for faster time­lines and tack­ling pay­er re­sis­tance to pricey ther­a­pies.

PPD high­light­ed five key trends that it be­lieves will dri­ve high­er de­mand for its ser­vices:

  • Growth in R&D spend­ing: Be­tween 2008 to 2018, R&D bud­gets rose around 3.3% an­nu­al­ly, PPD reck­oned;
  • In­creased lev­els of out­sourc­ing: “Out­sourc­ing pen­e­tra­tion as a per­cent­age of to­tal de­vel­op­ment spend­ing by bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in­creased from ap­prox­i­mate­ly 36% in 2007 to ap­prox­i­mate­ly 49% in 2018”;
  • In­creased com­plex­i­ty in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment: New ther­a­peu­tic modal­i­ties, more tar­get­ed drug de­vel­op­ment and new reg­u­la­to­ry re­quire­ments have made clin­i­cal tri­als hard­er to de­sign and re­cruit — high­light­ing the need for ex­perts;
  • Biotech­nol­o­gy sec­tor growth: With over $150 bil­lion of cap­i­tal raised for biotech com­pa­nies in the last three years, there’s plen­ty of fu­el for new play­ers to car­ry on their R&D projects;
  • In­creas­ing im­por­tance to prove val­ue of new ther­a­pies: Re­al-world ev­i­dence is be­com­ing more cen­tral to every drug pro­gram.

It is of course not the on­ly play­er cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this de­mand. On the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment side, which ac­counts for rough­ly 80% of its rev­enue, it list­ed IQVIA, ICON, Parex­el, PRA Health Sci­ences, Lab­Corp (Co­v­ance busi­ness), Sy­neos Health and Med­Pace as its ma­jor com­peti­tors. As for lab­o­ra­to­ry ser­vices, Lab­Corp, Sy­neos, Q2 So­lu­tions, ICON, Eu­rofins Sci­en­tif­ic, WuXi AppTec, BioAg­i­lytix and SGS were cit­ed as chief ri­vals.

Christo­pher Scul­ly

Un­like the drug de­vel­op­ers PPD serves, its IPO is not de­signed to fund any ex­pan­sion in ser­vices or ca­pa­bil­i­ties — its rev­enue, which neared $3 bil­lion by Sep­tem­ber of 2019, got it cov­ered — but to re­deem bonds is­sued as part of a re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion en­gi­neered by its biggest pri­vate eq­ui­ty back­ers in 2017.

Hell­man & Fried­man and the Car­lyle Group, the two play­ers re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing PPD off the Nas­daq in 2011, re­main the largest stock­hold­ers. The for­mer holds the li­on’s share at 56.7%, while the lat­ter kept 23.8%. Af­ter jump­ing on board in the 2017 re­cap­i­tal­iza­tion, Blue Spec­trum and GIC — in­vest­ing on be­half of Sin­ga­pore and Abu Dhabi, re­spec­tive­ly — each claimed 9.2% of the stock, to be back on the Nas­daq as $PPD

David Sim­mons, the Pfiz­er vet who took PPD’s helm in 2012, is in for 1.1%. His com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for 2019 to­taled $6.2 mil­lion, dou­ble that of 2018, most­ly thanks to op­tion awards. Fel­low Pfiz­er alum and CFO Christo­pher Scul­ly got $1.2 mil­lion while COO William Shar­baugh re­ceived $1.7 mil­lion.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Overnight for­tunes are be­ing made in biotech these days — and it's both en­cour­ag­ing and more than a lit­tle bit scary

Just to complete the last leg of a running story I’ve been tracking for a few weeks, Olema $OLMA has come through its IPO from the Thursday night pricing at $19 a share with a market cap just north of $2 billion.

That leaves newly-named CEO Sean Bohen holding a batch of 1,110,896 shares with a strike price of $4.82. As of Tuesday morning, the stock is now trading at $53.40, giving him a portfolio value of $53.4 million. Not bad for someone who was hired in September.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

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Pur­due Phar­ma pleads guilty in fed­er­al Oxy­Con­tin probe, for­mal­ly rec­og­niz­ing it played a part in the opi­oid cri­sis

Purdue Pharma, the producer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, admitted Tuesday that, yes, it did contribute to America’s opioid epidemic.

The drugmaker formally pleaded guilty to three criminal charges, the AP reported, including getting in the way of the DEA’s efforts to combat the crisis, failing to prevent the painkillers from ending up on the black market and encouraging doctors to write more painkiller prescriptions through two methods: paying them in a speakers program and directing a medical records company to send them certain patient information. Purdue’s plea deal calls for $8.3 billion in criminal fines and penalties, but the company is only liable for a fraction of that total — $225 million.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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