Bio Roundup: Sarepta’s Stumble, Opioid Suits, Shkreli’s Legacy & More

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patent litigation, as the San Francisco Business Times explains.

—Chinook Therapeutics, of Vancouver, BC, hooked a $65 million Series A round to develop drugs to treat rare kidney diseases.

—Venture capital firm Novalis LifeSciences secured $85 million for its first fund, which will invest in eight to 12 companies.

—Graybug Vision of Redwood City, CA, raised $80 million in Series C financing to advance its lead drug into mid-stage tests in the “wet” form of age-related macular degeneration and macular edema.

—Somerville, MA-based Finch Therapeutics closed a $53 million Series C round to continue Phase 3 development of its microbiome treatment for Clostridium difficile infection, as well as Phase 2 testing of an experimental treatment for autism spectrum disorder.

—Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round to continue developing anti-aging therapies.

—AstraZeneca agreed to pay $95 million to buy a priority review voucher from Swedish Orphan Biovitrum. SOBI had acquired the voucher earlier this summer as part of its purchase of assets from Novimmune.

—Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) is reportedly close to a deal to acquire rare disease drug developer Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALXN for $200 a share—a 74 percent premium. The acquisition talks were first reported by Spanish news outlet Intereconomia.


—In opioid news, Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENDP) and Allergan (NYSE: AGN) agreed to pay $15 million to settle claims with two Ohio counties and avoid a trial scheduled to start in October. Meanwhile, a decision in Oklahoma’s opioid suit against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is expected early next week.

—Planned Parenthood left the federal Title X funding program after the Trump administration changed abortion-referral rules.

—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating more than 150 cases of a mysterious lung ailment potentially linked to vaping. House Democrats have announced a hearing on the e-cigarette companies’ research and marketing practices.

—Two months after the Veterans Affairs department declined to put the antidepressant nasal spray esketamine (Spravato), from Johnson & Johnson, on its approved list, President Trump said he told the head of the VA to buy “a lot of it.” Trump’s continued public support of the drug deepens questions about connections between him, J&J, the VA, and a group of informal advisers.

—A group of biotech executives initiated an open letter and petition to protest harassment and firings of Chinese scientists in the US that have escalated during Donald Trump’s presidency.

—In the past 10 years, clinical trials leading to cancer drug approvals have rarely included full information about the race or ethnicity of participants, according to a new study. Only 8 percent of trials documented the four major US races. The data also show that black and Hispanic participants were underrepresented compared to the incidence of cancer in their communities.


Former Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) executive Levi Garraway was appointed chief medical officer of Genentech, succeeding Sandra Horning, who will retire at the end of the year…. uniQure (NASDAQ: QURE) chief operating officer Scott McMillan is also retiringDavid Marek left Amgen to become chief commercial officer of Axsome (NASDAQ: AXSM)… Frequency Therapeutics appointed Dana Hilt chief medical officerErasca promoted Gary Yeung to chief operating and financial officer, and appointed David Chacko chief business officer… and John McBride was appointed chief financial officer of Cadent Therapeutics.

Ben Fidler and Alex Lash contributed to this report. 

Photo by Flickr user Joel Kramer via a Creative Commons license

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