What do you get when you in­te­grate health­care da­ta from mul­ti­ple sources in­to one com­pre­hen­sive, glob­al pack­age? Travis May says he’s on track to find out

While Travis May was run­ning Liv­eR­amp, which he de­scribes as a kind of es­crow ser­vice for mul­ti-sourced mar­ket­ing da­ta that be­came pop­u­lar with a wide swath of the For­tune 500, he had plen­ty of time to think about the ways da­ta could change the world. Then he sold the com­pa­ny for more than $300 mil­lion, and now he’s us­ing what he learned about da­ta in­te­gra­tion from mul­ti­ple sources — along with some of the cash he made — to push the up­start Data­vant in­to what he hopes will be a lead­ing role in the re­mak­ing of health­care.

Vivek Ra­maswamy

With sub­stan­tial back­ing from the Big Dad­dy of all ‘vants, 32-year-old Vivek Ra­maswamy, May just joined in a $40.5 mil­lion round that is fi­nanc­ing the com­pa­ny as it nabs Uni­ver­sal Pa­tient Key, de­scribed as “the lead­ing provider of HIPAA-com­pli­ant de-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ser­vices for health­care da­ta.”

“Our goal ,” 30-year-old May says, “is to de-si­lo dif­fer­ent da­ta sets across health­care.”

UPK, May tells me, pro­vides the key he needs to bring to­geth­er de-iden­ti­fied da­ta from mul­ti­ple sources, do­ing it in such a way that you can gain a more com­plete pro­file in­to the health and ge­net­ics of one anony­mous in­di­vid­ual, but with scale. Be­fore now, you could get great batch­es of da­ta from a hos­pi­tal sys­tem, or lab da­ta, or ge­nomics da­ta, but have a hard time ag­gre­gat­ing them in a com­pli­ant fash­ion that al­lowed you to as­sem­ble the dif­fer­ent da­ta point on one per­son. 

If you do that and mul­ti­ply it by mil­lions, look­ing around the world, there are a lot of pos­si­bil­i­ties on what you can learn. And UPK’s client list in­cludes Allscripts, McKesson, De­ci­sion Re­sources Group, Op­tum, IBM Wat­son (Tru­ven Health), Ko­mo­do Health, Prog­nos, Pre­ci­sion Health, et al.

May isn’t shy about voic­ing his de­sire to achieve some­thing trans­for­ma­tion­al.

UPK, he says, will bring it all to­geth­er in­to a co­he­sive, and search­able, data­base. And now, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on mar­ket­ing da­ta, he’s cater­ing to clients who want to ag­gre­gate a mul­ti­tude of bet­ter da­ta so they can shine a light on, say, drug de­vel­op­ment as they ex­am­ine what hap­pens to one per­son, over time and meds and what a tor­rent of that da­ta can tell you about a dis­ease.

May and his back­ers at Roivant are stay­ing mum about the cost of buy­ing UPK, but he’s not try­ing to make it sound like a light-switch deal: I bought a switch and now all I need to do is flip it up and every­thing is done. He’s care­ful to say that his goal is still an as­pi­ra­tional one, in­volv­ing years of work in feed­ing more and more da­ta through the tech and an­a­lyz­ing the in­for­ma­tion. On the oth­er hand, May and his staff of 20 have clients and earn mon­ey, and he ex­pects that to grow with time.

Im­age: Travis May. DATA­VANT

Fol­low­ing news of job cuts in Eu­ro­pean R&D ops, Sanofi con­firms it’s of­fer­ing US work­ers an 'ear­ly ex­it'

Ear­li­er in the week we learned that Sanofi was bring­ing out the bud­get ax to trim 466 R&D jobs in Eu­rope, re­tool­ing its ap­proach to car­dio as re­search chief John Reed beefed up their work in can­cer and gene ther­a­pies. And we’re end­ing the week with news that the phar­ma gi­ant has al­so been qui­et­ly re­duc­ing staff in the US, tar­get­ing hun­dreds of jobs as the com­pa­ny push­es vol­un­tary buy­outs with a fo­cus on R&D sup­port ser­vices.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

Why would the FDA ap­prove an­oth­er con­tro­ver­sial drug to spur a woman’s li­bido with these da­ta? And why no ex­pert pan­el re­view?

AMAG Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved drug for spurring women’s sexual desire may never make much money, but it’s a big hit at sparking media attention.

The therapy — Vyleesi (bremelanotide) — got the green light from regulators on Friday evening, swiftly lighting up a range of stories around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian. Several headlines inevitably referred to it as the “female Viagra,” invoking Pfizer’s old erectile dysfunction blockbuster.

But the two drugs have little in common.

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John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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Which top 10 big phar­mas have the most to gain — or lose — over the next 5 years?

When Evaluate Pharma crunched the likely drug sales numbers for the big 10, 2 stood out. 

Takeda, with its big Shire buyout under its belt, is set to almost double its worldwide sales record for 2018 over 5 years, putting it in the big 10 — the 9th spot, to be exact — which is exactly where CEO Christophe Weber wants to be. 

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Roger Perlmutter. Merck via webcast

'Our lega­cy mat­ter­s': Mer­ck maps out Keytru­da king­dom while spot­light­ing ad­vances in vac­cines, hos­pi­tal care

“You can for the mo­ment stop tak­ing notes. You can put down your pens and your pad. I have no slides. I have no sub­stan­tive da­ta. I have no pitch.”

So be­gan Roger Perl­mut­ter’s brief ap­pear­ance on­stage at Mer­ck’s first in­vestor day in five years, where he dived in­to the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry dat­ing back to 1933. The first em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries, hand­picked by founder George W. Mer­ck, were crit­i­cal to Mer­ck’s abil­i­ty to achieve clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess.

Eli Casdin, Casdin Capital

Eli Cas­din backs Codex­is' plat­form tech with $50M eq­ui­ty buy

About a month af­ter Codex­is notched a deal with No­var­tis $NVS, the Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­ny $CDXS on Thurs­day said long-time in­vestor Cas­din Cap­i­tal is putting up $50 mil­lion in a pri­vate place­ment, which puts the New York-based in­vest­ment firm in con­trol of more than 5% of the pro­tein en­gi­neer­ing play­er’s stock.

Eli Cas­din start­ed his epony­mous in­vest­ment firm in 2012 and dates his re­la­tion­ship with Codex­is back to at least a decade. About three years ago, Cas­din Cap­i­tal be­gan in­vest­ing in the in­dus­tri­al biotech com­pa­ny, af­ter it piv­ot­ed its fo­cus to the life sci­ences — un­der the aus­pices of new chief John Nicols — away from the en­er­gy in­dus­try.

Brent Saunders at an Endpoints News event in 2017 — File photo

An­a­lyst call with Al­ler­gan ex­ecs stokes an­tic­i­pa­tion of a plan to split the com­pa­ny in ‘a month or two’

So what’s up at Al­ler­gan?

Ear­li­er this week the ubiq­ui­tous Ever­core ISI an­a­lyst Umer Raf­fat was on the line with com­pa­ny ex­ec­u­tives to probe in­to the lat­est on the num­bers as well as CEO Brent Saun­ders’ re­cent de­c­la­ra­tion that he’d be do­ing some­thing de­fin­i­tive to help long-suf­fer­ing in­vestors who have watched their shares dwin­dle in val­ue.

He came away with the im­pres­sion that a sig­nif­i­cant com­pa­ny split is on the way. And not on some dis­tant time hori­zon.

Image: Shutterstock

Gene ther­a­py R&D deals turn red hot as Big Phar­ma steps up to play

This September will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Jesse Gelsinger, a young man suffering from X-linked genetic disease of the liver. He was killed in a gene therapy study conducted by Penn’s James Wilson, and the entire field endured a lengthy deep freeze as the field grappled with the safety issues inherent in the work.

Some thought gene therapy R&D would never survive. But it did. And this year marked a landmark approval for Zolgensma, a new gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy Novartis priced at $2.1 million.

“Gene therapy is the hottest item on the block now. But there was a time when we first got into this trial, where there wasn’t a person in the world who believed that gene therapy would work. We have to remember that,” noted gene therapy investigator Jerry Mendell told SMA News Today.

We’re still right on the pioneering frontier when it comes to getting approvals for gene therapies and launching marketing campaigns with the European green light for bluebird’s leading program last Friday underscoring the nascent nature of the field. But gene therapy R&D is booming, and has been for several years now.

The rapid growth of gene therapy clinical development is well known, but we decided to put some numbers on it, to quantify what’s going on. DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar took a lot over the past 10 years, as the number of deals, R&D partnerships and buyouts steadily gained steam, spiking last year and on track to maintain the surge in 2019.

The upfronts and totals for the dollars on deals so far in 2019 is already close to the 2018 mark, underscoring a new phase of negotiations as the major players step up to gain a piece of the late-stage and commercial action.

Once again, we’re looking at an “overnight” biotech success story, decades in the making.

At some point, that may start to brake the numbers we’re seeing. But for now, as rivals line up to compete for frontline prominence across a range of diseases, the arrows are all pointed north.

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