Ten­sions be­tween the White House and Big Phar­ma have ratch­eted up af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced four ex­ec­u­tive or­ders tar­get­ing the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try. On Tues­day morn­ing, the pres­i­dent fired off the lat­est pub­lic sal­vo, while Pfiz­er CEO Al­bert Bourla harsh­ly crit­i­cized the di­rec­tives in a call with in­vestors.

With­out pro­vid­ing ev­i­dence, Trump on Twit­ter ac­cused phar­ma com­pa­nies of air­ing tele­vi­sion ads at­tack­ing him and, he says, false­ly claim the poli­cies would raise pre­scrip­tion drug prices for se­niors. It was not clear to which ad or ads Trump was re­fer­ring.

Al­bert Bourla

Short­ly there­after, Bourla said the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions would cause “enor­mous de­struc­tion” as the in­dus­try col­lec­tive­ly tries to re­search and de­vel­op vac­cines for Covid-19, ac­cord­ing to a CN­BC re­port. The com­ments took place dur­ing a con­fer­ence call dis­cussing the com­pa­ny’s sec­ond-quar­ter earn­ings.

“Over­all, I’m dis­ap­point­ed by this ex­ec­u­tive or­der,” Bourla re­port­ed­ly said on the call. “They pose enor­mous dis­trac­tion at a time where the in­dus­try needs to be com­plete­ly fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing a po­ten­tial COVID-19 vac­cine or treat­ment. The in­ter­na­tion­al price in­dex is rad­i­cal. Not on­ly it is im­pos­ing so­cial­ized med­i­cine to Amer­i­ca, it al­so will cre­ate un­cer­tain­ty and could lead to job loss­es.”

The broad­sides come a day af­ter POLITI­CO re­port­ed that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ex­ec­u­tives spurned the pres­i­dent’s in­vi­ta­tion to meet with him to dis­cuss the “most-fa­vored na­tions clause.” A pol­i­cy that has long been scorned by the in­dus­try, the clause would tie pre­scrip­tion drug prices in the Unit­ed States to what con­sumers pay abroad.

At his Fri­day press con­fer­ence, Trump threat­ened to en­act the or­der with­in 30 days if drug­mak­ers did not take ac­tion to low­er pre­scrip­tion prices on their own. Trump signed three oth­er ex­ec­u­tive or­ders Fri­day, each aimed at curb­ing pre­scrip­tion drug costs as the No­vem­ber elec­tion ap­proach­es. — Max Gel­man

Re­gen­eron gets near­ly $350 mil­lion Ebo­la BAR­DA con­tract

Re­gen­eron has re­ceived a new con­tract from BAR­DA, and it’s not for Covid-19.

The US biode­fense agency has agreed to pur­chase an undis­closed amount of REGN-EB3, Re­gen­eron’s Ebo­la an­ti­body cock­tail, over the next 6 years. The agree­ment will pay Re­gen­eron $10 mil­lion next year and ap­prox­i­mate­ly $67 mil­lion over each of the fol­low­ing 5 years.

REGN-EB3 is still await­ing FDA ap­proval — a PDU­FA date has been set, un­der pri­or­i­ty re­view, for Oc­to­ber 25 — but it has al­ready proven one of two ef­fec­tive treat­ments for the dead­ly virus. In a land­mark study com­plet­ed last year, it was one of two drugs that re­duced mor­tal­i­ty to around 30%, and served as a near-cure when giv­en ear­ly enough. The oth­er ef­fec­tive drug was a sin­gle an­ti­body de­vel­oped by the NIH, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hum­abs, which is now a sub­sidiary of Vir. That an­ti­body has since been li­censed to the Ridge­back Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, which has not filed for FDA ap­proval.

Al­though not di­rect­ly tied to Covid-19, the agree­ment is part of a larg­er strat­e­gy to stock­pile drugs that could pre­pare the US for po­ten­tial out­breaks — a strat­e­gy al­ready de­ployed for an­thrax. Re­gen­eron’s Ebo­la pro­gram, de­vel­oped dur­ing the 2014-2016 West African cri­sis, was al­so con­duct­ed in part­ner­ship with BAR­DA, lay­ing the ground­work for the cur­rent $450 mil­lion Covid-19 col­lab­o­ra­tion. — Ja­son Mast

Eli Cas­din in­vests in French biotech de­vel­op­ing EDS tech­nol­o­gy

Eli Cas­din

Promi­nent biotech in­vestor Eli Cas­din has turned his sights on DNA Script, as Cas­din Cap­i­tal heads up an ex­tend­ed round of Se­ries B fund­ing for the French biotech.

DNA Script pulled in $50 mil­lion in new in­vest­ments, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Wednes­day, and Cas­din will join its board of di­rec­tors. The fund­ing ex­ten­sion brings DNA Script’s to­tal Se­ries B amount to $89 mil­lion.

Cas­din is the son of the pi­o­neer­ing biotech an­a­lyst Jef­frey Cas­din, who be­gan in­vest­ing in the field in the 1980s and soon be­came one of the field’s top Wall Street minds. Eli Cas­din and his broth­er Alexan­der worked at their fa­ther’s Coop­er Hill Part­ners be­fore it shut­tered in 2007, and Eli Cas­din found­ed Cas­din Cap­i­tal in 2012.

The life-sci­ences in­vest­ment firm has fund­ed many projects over the years, about 70 per­cent of which have been in drug de­vel­op­ment, Cas­din told End­points News last year. DNA Script, the lat­est to re­ceive Cas­din’s stamp of ap­proval, fo­cused on en­zy­mat­ic DNA syn­the­sis tech­nol­o­gy, and this round of fund­ing will go specif­i­cal­ly to­ward launch­ing the com­pa­ny’s DNA bench­top print­er.

In ad­di­tion to Cas­din Cap­i­tal, in­vestors in­clud­ed Mer­ck KgaA’s VC arm, Dana­her Life Sci­ences, Ag­i­lent Tech­nolo­gies, LSP, the Bpifrance Large Ven­ture Fund and Il­lu­mi­na Ven­tures. — Max Gel­man

AI-fo­cused Re­cur­sion Bio pur­chas­es Vi­um, ac­quir­ing pre­clin­i­cal da­ta col­lec­tion plat­form

Re­cur­sion Bio, a com­pa­ny that billed it­self as the first AI biotech to put on hu­man tri­als, an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of Sil­i­con Val­ley-based Vi­um.

With the pur­chase comes Vi­um’s pro­pri­etary dig­i­tal plat­form that fo­cus­es on new da­ta tools for pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies, in­clud­ing end-to-end in vi­vo re­search. The plat­form us­es com­put­er vi­sion, ma­chine learn­ing and sen­sor tech­nolo­gies to non-in­va­sive­ly col­lect da­ta. Fi­nan­cial terms of the deal were not dis­closed.

Chris Gib­son

“Bring­ing the fan­tas­tic team at Vi­um in-house will en­able us to build on our core tech­nol­o­gy and vi­sion, aug­ment­ing our huge in vit­ro datasets with large, com­ple­men­tary in vi­vo datasets, and ad­vanc­ing our mis­sion to de­code bi­ol­o­gy to rad­i­cal­ly im­prove pa­tient lives,” Re­cur­sion CEO Chris Gib­son said in a state­ment.

Re­cur­sion’s claims about reach­ing hu­man tri­als first, how­ev­er, have been met with push­back from crit­ics, and Gib­son read­i­ly con­ced­ed last Ju­ly that one of the com­pa­ny’s lead pro­grams came out of co-founder Dean Li, who is now the head of trans­la­tion­al re­search at Mer­ck. The biotech’s oth­er clin­i­cal stage drug was in-li­censed from Ohio State. — Max Gel­man

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2020-07-29 13:25:55
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