What's BIO and PhRMA do­ing to ad­dress sex­u­al ha­rass­ment? Sen­a­tor Mur­ray wants to know

Pat­ty Mur­ray

Re­mem­ber the ex­trav­a­gant par­ty at BIO’s in­ter­na­tion­al con­ven­tion a few weeks ago that fea­tured top­less dancers? Well, Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray does, and she is us­ing the event to call on both BIO and PhRMA — the two biggest in­dus­try trade groups — to step up in their ac­tions against work­place ha­rass­ment.

In two sep­a­rate let­ters sent to the chiefs of each or­ga­ni­za­tion, Mur­ray lam­bast­ed BIO’s lack of ac­tion and PhRMA’s si­lence in wake of their mem­ber com­pa­nies’ spon­sor­ship of PAB­NAB, the in­fa­mous in­for­mal event in a sense born out of — but em­phat­i­cal­ly not af­fil­i­at­ed with — the an­nu­al net­work­ing con­fer­ence of bio­phar­ma folks. Cit­ing wide­spread sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the med­ical re­search com­mu­ni­ty in gen­er­al, she al­so pressed for the trade groups’ un­der­stand­ing of and plans to ad­dress the prob­lem.

“I hope and ex­pect that in your po­si­tion as the leader of the in­dus­try’s trade group, you are tak­ing steps to ad­dress con­cerns about mis­con­duct among mem­ber com­pa­nies and to en­sure that your mem­bers’ work­places are free from ha­rass­ment,” she wrote.

Jim Green­wood

Mur­ray re­served her harsh­er com­ments for BIO pres­i­dent and CEO James Green­wood. De­spite their in­creased at­ten­tion to di­ver­si­ty and in­clu­sion, she point­ed out, their con­ven­tion still “fea­tured 25 pan­els with­out a sin­gle fe­male speak­er, and men ac­count­ed for rough­ly 70 per­cent of the speak­ers and pan­elists at the con­ven­tion.”

And then there’s PAB­NAB — an event that “has a high­ly con­cern­ing his­to­ry of ob­jec­ti­fy­ing women and us­ing cul­tur­al­ly in­ap­pro­pri­ate themes.”

“Af­ter the par­ty, you and your Board Chair­man, as well as oth­er in­dus­try lead­ers, spoke out against the event,” Mur­ray wrote, “how­ev­er, I’m not aware of any­thing your or­ga­ni­za­tion and these in­dus­try lead­ers have done to en­sure there are re­al con­se­quences for spon­sor­ing com­pa­nies, nor used your lead­er­ship roles to ad­dress the broad­er work­place chal­lenges in the biotech­nol­o­gy in­dus­try.”

Green­wood pre­vi­ous­ly told Bio­Cen­tu­ry that he was speak­ing di­rect­ly with or­ga­niz­ers and spon­sors of PAB­NAB to con­vey the mes­sage that “over­ly ob­jec­ti­fy­ing women in this way is not help­ful,” and that the board would in­ter­vene if the same thing oc­curs at next year’s BIO meet­ing.

Steve Ubl

The let­ter to PhRMA pres­i­dent and CEO Stephen Ubl was more gen­er­al in its con­cerns, broach­ing the preva­lence of sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the work­place. Mur­ray did, how­ev­er, name Bay­er as a spon­sor of PAB­NAB. A Bay­er ex­ec sits on PhRMA’s board, which said noth­ing about the com­pa­ny’s in­volve­ment.

And as with BIO, Mur­ray re­quest­ed a meet­ing as well as in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing any re­search, ac­tions and sug­ges­tions PhRMA might have to ad­dress the prob­lems of sex­u­al as­sault.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.