Bio Roundup: Biogen’s Strategy, Drug Price Convo, NASH News & More

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its nasal powder version of generic migraine drug dihydroergotamine.

—Eli Lilly sold the Chinese rights for two antibiotics, along with a Suzhou, China, manufacturing facility that makes one of them, to Eddingpharm in a deal valued at $375 million. All employees at the site will be offered work for Eddingpharm.

—CRISPR diagnostics startup Sherlock Biosciences revealed that it now has $49 million in committed capital. Last month, the Cambridge, MA, company emerged with $35 million in Series A financing.

—Fulcrum Therapeutics acquired losmapimod, a once-failed drug for heart disease, from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and plans to develop it for the rare disease facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. GSK got a “high single-digit equity stake” in Fulcrum in the deal.

—Roche’s $4.8 billion offer to acquire Spark Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ONCE) was extended to June 3 to give US regulators more time to review the deal. The offer was previously set to expire on May 2.

HEALTH POLICY HEADLINES

—In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, a large majority of Americans listed lower drug prices and defense of protections for people with preexisting conditions as top healthcare priorities. The poll showed much less enthusiasm for “Medicare for all” and for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

—The US federal health insurance system proposed higher payments for the two CAR-T cell therapies on the market, which have price tags of $475,000 and $373,000 and have not seen widespread use. Seema Verma, who oversees the agency responsible for Medicare and Medicaid, blamed government policy for stifling innovation, according to Bloomberg.

—More than 60 scientists, executives, and bioethicists sent a letter to US Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, calling for a moratorium on human germline editing.

PUBLISHED FINDINGS

—Results of the academic I-PREDICT study showed that patients with advanced cancer fared better when they received drug cocktails that were closely matched to the genetic mutations in their tumors. The study was published in Nature with two other papers describing work to advance precision oncology treatments.

—A study on R&D trends in the life sciences industry showed a shift large pharma firms are shifting development towards cancer and rare disease. The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science study also found that biotechs with one to three commercial products account for a majority of the new drugs coming to market.

—Boston University and Johnson & Johnson researchers said genomic and immune system markers could signal a patient’s early risk for lung cancer. The early findings were published in Nature Communications.

—A study published last Friday in JAMA Network Open found that digital health apps for smoking cessation and depression are sharing user data with third parties without user consent. The Washington Post has more.

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

—The Rochester Drug Cooperative, one of the nation’s largest drug distributors, agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it helped spur on the nation’s opioid epidemic by illegally distributing oxycodone and fentanyl. Here’s more from CNBC.

—Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of defunct diagnostics startup Theranos, appeared in court on Monday, but the judge delayed setting a trial date for her fraud case.

—Following espionage concerns raised last year by federal officials, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston decided to fire three Chinese scientists. Science had the story first and noted concerns about racial profiling.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

—Pfizer executive Dimitry Nuyten jumped to Aduro Biotech (NASDAQ: ADRO) to take the chief medical officer post.

—Lynne Kelley left Histogenics (NASDAQ: HSGX) to become chief medical officer of X4 Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: XFOR).

Ben Fidler and Alex Lash contributed to this report. 

Photo by Depositphotos

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