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Bio Roundup: Eli Lilly Tries Tau, Generic Insulin, NASH Cash & More

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Perosphere Pharmaceuticals and its lead compound ciraparantag, a drug developed to reverse the effects of blood thinners. Depending on the progress of the Phase 2 drug, shareholders of the Danbury, CT, company could earn up to $140 million more in milestones.

DRUG DEVELOPMENTS

—Marinus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MRNS) said its postpartum depression (PPD) treatment ganaxalone hit the goals of a Phase 2 study but analysts were unconvinced the data show it can compete against Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SAGE) PPD drug brexanolone.

—Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) ended a gene therapy alliance with AGTC (NASDAQ: AGTC) after the Gainesville, FL, company’s experimental treatment for the rare eye disease x-linked retinoschisis offered “no signs of clinical activity” in an early stage trial. Biogen paid AGTC $124 million up front in 2015 for rights to two gene therapies and an option to three others; the programs will return to AGTC, whose shares plummeted 48 percent.

—Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) chose to license two cancer drug candidates from Dragonfly Therapeutics, netting the Waltham, MA, startup $24 million. Celgene recently deepened its ties with Dragonfly, a startup co-founded by cancer research pioneer Tyler Jacks.

—Nelotanserin, an experimental Axovant Sciences (NASDAQ: AXON) drug developed to treat sleep disorder behavior in patients who have Lewy body dementia, failed a Phase 2 study.

—Shares of Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX) fell more than 20 percent after its Tourette syndrome drug valbenazine failed a Phase 2 study.

—The FDA has begun a review of lumateperone, an experimental schizophrenia drug from Intra-Cellular Therapies (NASDAQ: ITCI) that has had mixed results in clinical testing. It’ll decide the drug’s fate by Sept. 27, 2019.

—In a head-to-head study of two marketed drugs, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) reported that its psoriasis treatment guselkumab (Tremfya) outperformed secukinumab (Cosentyx), from Novartis (NYSE: NVS), but it wasn’t a slam dunk.

—Kaleo, a maker of a $4,100 device to treat opioid overdoses, will produce a $178 generic version. Kaleo has been under investigation for raising the device’s price sevenfold over a four-year span. Stat has more.

—A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology charged that genetic screening for breast cancer is out of date and needs to expand to include more recent advances.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

—Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) named Daniel O’Day, a veteran executive from Roche, its new CEO. O’Day will take over as sales of Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs have fallen considerably, and just as the company has made a big bet on the future of CAR-T cell therapy, most notably through its $12 billion buyout of Kite Pharma.

—Nine months after activist investor Alex Denner gained control of the board at The Medicines Co. (NASDAQ: MDCO), Mark Timney was named its new CEO, replacing longtime top executive Clive Meanwell, who will now serve as chief innovation officer. MedCo has significantly trimmed its business over the last year, and is focusing its development efforts on the cholesterol-lowering drug inclisiran.

Ben Fidler and Alex Lash contributed to this report. 

Photo by Flickr user Melissa Johnson via a Creative Commons license

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