RAPT Therapeutics shares soar on data

RAPT Therapeutics, Inc. (RAPT) announced positive topline results from its randomized placebo-controlled Phase 1b clinical trial of RPT193 as monotherapy in 31 patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD).

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s common in children but can occur at any age. Atopic dermatitis is long lasting (chronic) and tends to flare periodically. It may be accompanied by asthma or hay fever.

After four weeks of treatment, patients with moderate-to-severe AD who received RPT193 showed a 36.3% improvement from baseline in the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, a standard measure of disease severity, compared to 17.0% in the placebo group.

Notably, in the two-week period following the end of treatment, the RPT193 group showed continued improvement and further separation from placebo with a 53.2% improvement in EASI at the six-week time point compared to 9.6% in the placebo group. This continued improvement may be related to RPT193’s mechanism of action, which is upstream of other agents targeting cytokines or signaling pathways.

Emma Guttman-Yassky, M.D., Ph.D., the Waldman Professor of Dermatology and System Chair Department of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and member of RAPT’s Scientific Advisory Board, added, “I am very excited about these results as they not only demonstrate clinically meaningful improvement after just four weeks of treatment, but also further improvement for two weeks after completion of treatment. This may suggest that this novel mechanism of action targeting CCR4 on Th2 cells could have prolonged, disease-modifying effects, which could differentiate it from other agents. Along with being an oral drug that seems to have promising clinical activity and a well-tolerated safety profile, RPT193 could fill a high unmet medical need for AD patients.”

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young raised the firm’s price target on Rapt Therapeutics to $71 from $51 and reiterates an Overweight rating on the shares. The stock in midday trading is up 110%, or $19.60, to $38.17. This morning’s RPT193 data update “was robust with clear clinical benefit compared to placebo on all exploratory endpoints,” Young tells investors in a research note.

The analyst took the drug’s probability of success in atopic dermatitis to 50% from 25% previously, and increased her peak sales estimates. Young sees a “large unmet need” for a safe and effective oral treatment which is separate from the injectable market, and models peak sales of $4B in atopic dermatitis by 2035. She views Rapt’s risk/benefit profile as potentially best-in-class for an oral treatment.

RAPT is up 107% to $37.70.

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FDA Approves Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug

FDA approves Biogen Alzheimer’s drug, says benefits outweigh risks

The FDA approved Biogen’s (BIIB) Aduhelm to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“This approval is significant in many ways. Aduhelm is the first novel therapy approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003.

Perhaps more significantly, Aduhelm is the first treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, the presence of amyloid beta plaques in the brain.

The clinical trials for Aduhelm were the first to show that a reduction in these plaques – a hallmark finding in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s – is expected to lead to a reduction in the clinical decline of this devastating form of dementia,” the FDA said in a statement.

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Eli Lilly is a partner with Biogen

It added, “We ultimately decided to use the Accelerated Approval pathway – a pathway intended to provide earlier access to potentially valuable therapies for patients with serious diseases where there is an unmet need, and where there is an expectation of clinical benefit despite some residual uncertainty regarding that benefit.

Brain of an Alzheimer patient

In determining that the application met the requirements for Accelerated Approval, the Agency concluded that the benefits of Aduhelm for patients with Alzheimer’s disease outweighed the risks of the therapy.”

The FDA said in its approval statement: “Additionally, FDA is requiring Biogen to conduct a post-approval clinical trial to verify the drug’s clinical benefit. If the drug does not work as intended, we can take steps to remove it from the market. But hopefully, we will see further evidence of benefit in the clinical trial and as greater numbers of people receive Aduhelm. As an agency, we will also continue to work to foster drug development for this catastrophic disease.”

STIFEL

Stifel analyst Paul Matteis reiterates his Buy rating on Biogen shares following the FDA granting accelerated approval of aducanumab, now to be called “Aduhelm,” for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Approval based on amyloid plaque as a “surrogate” is “definitely unexpected” and appears to be a way for FDA to work around the contentious advisory committee meeting, argues Matteis, who adds that the approval “is a big win.” How investors will risk-adjust revenues that are modeled after completion of a Phase 4 trial and how insurers will treat access for a drug approved based on a biomarker are “highly interesting” questions that will now “be debated at a materially higher stock valuation,” added Matteis. Biogen shares remain halted for trading at midday following news of the FDA approval.

JEFFRIES

Jefferies analyst Andrew Tsai said news of Biogen (BIIB) being granted FDA approval for aducanumab is likely to spark investor enthusiasm across all Alzheimer’s names and he believes the longer-term setup for Athira Pharma (ATHA) looks more attractive now. Given what he views as “the FDA tailwind,” he would buy on strength as he believes the FDA’s aducanumab decision “clearly has a positive readthrough” to Athira, whose Phase I data suggests ATHA-1017 could produce “a profound cognitive benefit” in Phase 2/3 studies expected to read out in 2022, Tsai tells investors.

In that context, he thinks a 25%-50% short-term move for Athira shares “seems reasonable” relative to the company’s current market cap.

Shares of Biogen (BIIB) remain halted while Eli Lilly (LLY), who has an Alzheimer’s disease drug in its pipeline, is up 4% to $210.78 following the news.

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FDA Approves J&J’s one shot Covid-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine granted emergency approval from FDA 

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease. The FDA has determined that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine has met the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA. The totality of the available data “provides clear evidence that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement.

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The Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine is manufactured using a specific type of virus called adenovirus type 26. The vaccine uses Ad26 to deliver a piece of the DNA, or genetic material, that is used to make the distinctive “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the FDA said. While adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are relatively common, Ad26, which can cause cold symptoms and pink eye, has been modified for the vaccine so that it cannot replicate in the human body to cause illness, it added. After a person receives this vaccine, the body can temporarily make the spike protein, which does not cause disease, but triggers the immune system to learn to react defensively, producing an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

The EUA allows Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson also announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The ACIP recommendation will be forwarded to the Director of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review and adoption.

Johnson & Johnson has begun shipping its COVID-19 vaccine and expects to deliver enough single-shot vaccines by the end of March to enable the full vaccination of more than 20M people in the U.S.

The company plans to deliver 100M single-shot vaccines to the U.S. during the first half of 2021. The U.S. government will manage allocation and distribution of the vaccine in the U.S.

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Johnson & Johnson files for FDA approval of it’s Covid-19 Vaccine

 J&J submits FDA application for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced that Janssen Biotech, Inc., has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting Emergency Use Authorization for its investigational single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

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JNJ files for approval of Covid-19 vaccine

The company’s EUA submission is based on topline efficacy and safety data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE clinical trial, demonstrating that the investigational single-dose vaccine met all primary and key secondary endpoints.

The Company expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization. “Today’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization of our investigational single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is a pivotal step toward reducing the burden of disease for people globally and putting an end to the pandemic,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson.

“Upon authorization of our investigational COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, we are ready to begin shipping. With our submission to the FDA and our ongoing reviews with other health authorities around the world, we are working with great urgency to make our investigational vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible.”

Johnson & Johnson intends to distribute vaccine to the U.S. government immediately following authorization, and expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2021.

JNJ last traded at $161.99.

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Prevail Therapeutics sold for $1.04 billion

Eli Lilly to acquire Prevail Therapeutics for up to $26.50 per share in cash

Eli Lilly (LLY) and Prevail Therapeutics (PRVL) announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire Prevail for $22.50 per share in cash payable at closing plus one non-tradable contingent value right, or CVR, worth up to $4.00 per share in cash, for a total consideration of up to $26.50 per share in cash, or or an aggregate of approximately $1.04B.

Prevail sold for more than $1 billion

The CVR is payable upon the first regulatory approval of a product from Prevail’s pipeline as set forth in more detail below.

Prevail is a biotechnology company developing potentially disease-modifying AAV9-based gene therapies for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

The acquisition will establish a new modality for drug discovery and development at Lilly, extending Lilly’s research efforts through the creation of a gene therapy program that will be anchored by Prevail’s portfolio of clinical-stage and preclinical neuroscience assets.

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Eli Lilly bets on Prevail’s Parkinson’s treatment

Prevail’s lead gene therapies in clinical development are PR001 for patients with Parkinson’s disease with GBA1 mutations and neuronopathic Gaucher disease and PR006 for patients with frontotemporal dementia with GRN mutations.

Prevail’s preclinical pipeline includes PR004 for patients with specific synucleinopathies, as well as potential gene therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders.

PROO1 is a promising drug for Parkinson’s

Under the terms of the agreement, Lilly will commence a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Prevail Therapeutics Inc. for a purchase price of $22.50 per share in cash payable at closing plus one non-tradeable CVR.

The CVR entitles Prevail stockholders to up to an additional $4.00 per share in cash payable upon the first regulatory approval for commercial sale of a Prevail product in one of the following countries: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

To achieve the full value of the CVR, such regulatory approval must occur by December 31, 2024.

If such regulatory approval occurs after December 31, 2024, the value of the CVR will be reduced by approximately 8.3c per month until December 1, 2028.

There can be no assurance any payments will be made with respect to the CVR. The transaction is not subject to any financing condition and is expected to close in Q1 of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals and the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Prevail’s common stock.

Following the successful closing of the tender offer, Lilly will acquire any shares of Prevail that are not tendered in the tender offer through a second-step merger at the same consideration as paid in the tender offer.

The purchase price payable at closing represents a premium of approximately 117% to the 60-day volume-weighted average trading price of Prevail’s common stock ended on December 14, the last trading day before the announcement of the transaction.

Prevail’s board of directors unanimously recommends that Prevail’s stockholders tender their shares in the tender offer.

Additionally, certain Prevail stockholders, beneficially owning approximately 51% of Prevail’s outstanding common stock, have agreed to tender their shares in the tender offer.

Upon closing, the impact of this transaction will be reflected in Lilly’s 2021 financial results according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

There will be no change required to Lilly’s 2021 financial guidance being issued for research and development expense or non-GAAP earnings per share as a result of this transaction.

Prevail Therapeutics (PRVL) last traded at $22.67, up 81%.

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Big Rock Partners buys NeuroRx

NeuroRx to trade on Nasdaq following Big Rock Partners Acquisition merger

Big Rock Partners Acquisition (BRPA) announced that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with NeuroRx, a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company.

Big Rock shares jump on purchase of NeuroRx

NeuroRx develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 and Bipolar Depression.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock and NeuroRx will merge and the company is expected to continue to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol (NRXP).

The transaction is expected to occur in the first or second quarter of 2021.

As a public Nasdaq-listed company, NeuroRx expects to have increased access to capital to continue development of its drug pipeline targeting Central Nervous System/Psychiatry and Respiratory Disease.

NeuroRx is a clinical stage, small molecule pharmaceutical company which develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of central nervous system disorders and life-threatening pulmonary disease.

NeuroRx’s two main drugs are Zyesami which is an application for COVID-related respiratory failure and NRX-101, which focuses on suicidal bipolar depression and PTSD.

Zyesami is a synthetic human vasoactive intestinal peptide, or VIP, a 28 amino-acid natural peptide with 50 years of research. NRX-101 is a fixed-dose combination of D-cycloserine and lurasidone that has advanced to phase 3 with FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation, a Special Protocol Agreement, Biomarker Letter of Support, and Fast Track Designation.

NeuroRx’s management team is comprised of industry veterans, led by founder, Chairman & CEO Jonathan C. Javitt, MD, MPH, Robert Besthof, MIM (Chief Commercial Officer), William Fricker, MBA, CPA (Chief Financial Officer) and Alessandra Daigneault, JD (Corporate Secretary), who are expected to continue to run the combined company, post-transaction.

All officers and members of the board of Big Rock will resign in connection with the closing of the transactions.

The board of the combined company will initially consist of seven members, including Prof. Jonathan Javitt.

Under the terms of the transaction, Big Rock will issue to NeuroRx’s current equity holders an aggregate of 50M shares of Big Rock common stock for their interests in NeuroRx, representing $500M of equity consideration, assuming a value of $10.00 per common share.

Subject to certain conditions, an aggregate of 25M additional shares of Big Rock common stock will be issued to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, RLF-100 receives emergency use authorization by the FDA and the FDA accepts the company’s filing of its application to approve RLF-100.

In addition, subject to certain conditions, a $100M cash earnout may be payable to NeuroRx pre-merger equity holders if, prior to December 31, 2022, either FDA approval of the company’s COVID-19 Drug is obtained and the company’s COVID-19 Drug is listed in the FDA’s or FDA approval of the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is obtained and the company’s Antidepressant Drug Regimen is listed in the FDA’s “Orange Book”.

The boards of both NeuroRx and Big Rock have unanimously approved the proposed transaction.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by stockholders of NeuroRx and Big Rock and other customary closing conditions.

BRPA is up 30% to $15.50.

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Aytu BioScience and Neos Therapeutics Merge

Aytu, Neos Therapeutics enter all-stock merger agreement

Aytu BioScience (AYTU) and Neos Therapeutics (NEOS) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Neos will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Aytu in an all-stock transaction.

Upon the effectiveness of the merger, Neos stockholders will be entitled to receive 0.1088 shares of common stock of Aytu for each share of Neos common stock held, after taking into account the one-for-ten reverse split of Aytu’s common stock that was effected on December 8.

The transaction will result in Neos stockholders owning approximately 30% of the fully diluted common shares of Aytu.

The all-stock transaction is valued, on a fully diluted basis, at approximately $44.9M based on the 10-day volume weighted average price of Aytu stock for the period ended December 9.

The combined entity will have an increased footprint in the prescription pediatric market, an established multi-brand ADHD portfolio addressing the $8.5B ADHD market and combined revenue scale.

For the 12-month period ending September 30, Neos generated $57M in revenues. On a combined pro-forma basis for this same period, Aytu and Neos’ aggregate net revenue is over $100M.

In addition, this merger facilitates operational and commercial synergies that can be harnessed to accelerate the path to profitability for the combined entity, with estimated annualized cost synergies of approximately $15M beginning FY22.

The combined company will be led by Josh Disbrow, CEO of Aytu and will be headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

The board of the combined company will consist of six members designated by Aytu and two members designated by Neos, including Neos CEO and director Jerry McLaughlin and Neos director Beth Hecht.

The merger is currently expected to close by Q2 of 2021, subject to certain approvals by both Aytu and Neos stockholders and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

As part of the transaction, Aytu has agreed to provide Neos with access to up to $5M cash for working capital needs for the period prior to the closing of the merger.

In addition, upon closing of the merger, $15M in principal of Neos’s existing senior secured debt facility with affiliates of Deerfield Management will be repaid, and Deerfield has agreed to allow the remaining debt under the facility to remain outstanding with the combined company following the merger.

Indebtedness under Neos’s existing ABL agreement with Encina Business Credit will also remain outstanding.

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Sage Therapeutics shares jump on it depression drug

Sage Therapeutics, Biogen announce collaboration on SAGE-217, SAGE-324

Biogen (BIIB) and Sage Therapeutics (SAGE) announced that they have executed a global collaboration and license agreement to jointly develop and commercialize zuranolone for major depressive disorder, postpartum depression and other psychiatric disorders and SAGE-324 for essential tremor and other neurological disorders.

Sage receives a large investment from Biogen

Zuranolone, a potential first-in-class, two-week, once-daily oral therapy in development for the treatment of MDD and PPD, is currently in Phase 3 development as part of the LANDSCAPE and NEST clinical programs.

Zuranolone has breakthrough therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for MDD and, if successfully developed and approved, has the potential to be a novel treatment paradigm in depression.

Biogen gambles on Sage’s depression drug

The vision for zuranolone in MDD and PPD is based on its potential, being evaluated in the LANDSCAPE and NEST development programs, to work rapidly and to continue providing sustained benefit beyond the period of dosing.

Together, these two features, if supported by positive clinical efficacy and safety data, could provide an alternative option to how depression is treated today based on a target profile of an “as-needed” short course of treatment for a depressive episode, with rapid and sustained efficacy and favorable tolerability.

The development of an “as-needed” treatment for depression may help ease the difficulties associated with chronic use of antidepressants and may enhance quality of life and patient adherence.

To date, two positive pivotal studies have been completed with zuranolone 30 mg, one in MDD (MDD-201) and one in PPD.

Additionally, while the Phase 3 MOUNTAIN Study of zuranolone in MDD did not meet its primary endpoint, the encouraging data from the recently announced MOUNTAIN six-month follow-up period and the topline interim SHORELINE Study analysis, suggest the potential for zuranolone, if successfully developed and approved, to be uniquely positioned as a disruptive, distinct and novel treatment approach for patients.

Biogen and Sage believe that zuranolone is clinically active in MDD based on the data compiled to date and look forward to planned data readouts in 2021.

Sage is pursuing three development pathways for zuranolone in the U.S.: PPD; acute rapid response therapy in MDD when co-initiated with new standard antidepressant therapy; and “as-needed,” or episodic, treatment of MDD.

As a result, Sage is advancing four additional pivotal studies evaluating a 50 mg dose of zuranolone: a Phase 3 study in PPD, a Phase 3 study of use as an acute RRT in patients with MDD when co-initiated with new standard antidepressant therapy , a Phase 3 study in the acute treatment of MDD and an open label Phase 3 study evaluating the long-term safety, tolerability and efficacy of “as-needed” repeat treatment. Data from these studies are expected in 2021.

Upon closing of the transaction, Biogen and Sage will collaborate to further define the development and commercialization strategy for zuranolone.

Beyond PPD and MDD, zuranolone may also have potential in other psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. SAGE-324 is a next-generation positive allosteric modulator of GABAA receptors in Phase 2 development for essential tremor with potential in other neurological conditions such as epilepsy and PD.

Essential tremor is one of the most common movement disorders estimated to affect over six million patients in the U.S., and current standard of care may be inadequate for many.

Following encouraging results from a Phase 1 open-label study in essential tremor, Sage advanced SAGE-324 to the Phase 2a KINETIC Study, which Sage is currently conducting.

The KINETIC Study is a 28-day placebo-controlled study in patients with essential tremor expected to read out in 2021.

Upon closing of the transaction, Biogen and Sage will collaborate to further define the development and commercialization strategy for SAGE-324 in essential tremor and, as appropriate, for potential expansion into other neurological disorders.

The strategic collaboration is global in scope and under the terms of the agreement, Sage will receive $1.525 billion in cash to be comprised of an upfront payment of $875 million and a $650 million equity investment in Sage from the purchase of approximately 6.2 million newly issued shares of Sage common stock at a price of $104.14 per share, representing a premium of 40 percent over the 30-day volume-weighted average share price of $74.39 per share as of November 25, 2020.

Should the zuranolone and SAGE-324 programs achieve certain development and commercial milestones, Sage will be eligible to receive up to approximately $1.6 billion in potential milestone payments. Biogen and Sage will share responsibility and costs for development as well as profits and losses for commercialization in the U.S.. Outside the U.S., Biogen will be responsible for development and commercialization, excluding Japan, Taiwan and South Korea with respect to zuranolone, and will pay Sage tiered royalties in the high teens to low twenties. Closing of the transaction is contingent on completion of review under antitrust laws, including the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in the U.S., and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close by the end of January 2021.

BIIB last traded at $241.75. SAGE last traded at $84.00.

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MyoKardia sold for $13.1B

Bristol-Myers to acquire MyoKardia for $225.00 per share in cash

Bristol-Myers (BMY) will buy MyoKardia (MYOK) for $225 a share in cash, or $13.1B. MyoKardia’s lead pipeline drug, code-named mavacamten, treats a chronic heart condition that can cause irregular heart rhythms in some patients and even death. Bristol plans to ask U.S. health regulators next year to approve the drug, Bristol CEO Giovanni Caforio says.

MYOK sold for $13.1B

The transaction was unanimously approved by both the Bristol Myers Squibb and MyoKardia Boards of Directors and is anticipated to close during the fourth quarter. Bristol Myers Squibb expects to finance the acquisition with a combination of cash and debt.

The transaction is expected to add a significant growth driver during the medium- to long-term.

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It is expected to be minimally dilutive to Bristol Myers Squibb’s non-GAAP EPS in 2021 and 2022 and accretive beginning in 2023. Bristol Myers Squibb reaffirms its existing 2021 non-GAAP EPS guidance range.

MyoKardia, Inc. discovers, develops, and commercializes targeted therapies for the treatment of serious and neglected rare cardiovascular diseases. Its lead product candidate is mavacamten, an orally administered small molecule, which is in Phase III clinical trial that is designed to reduce left ventricular contractility to alleviate the functional consequences and symptoms of obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and prevent or reverse HCM progression, as well as in Phase II clinical trial for non-obstructive HCM.

The company also develops MYK-491, an orally-administered small molecule, which is in Phase IIa clinical trial that is designed to restore normal cardiac muscle contractility in the diseased dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) heart. Its preclinical programs include MYK-224, a HCM-targeting candidate that is designed to reduce excess cardiac contractility and enhance diastolic function; LUS-1, which is used to counteract a muscle abnormality that results in impaired relaxation of the left ventricle; and ACT-1 targeting genetic DCM due to sarcomeric mutations and impaired calcium regulation.

MYOK closed at $139.60, it last traded at $221.00. BMY closed at $58.72.

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Merck invests $1B in Seattle Genetics

Merck to acquire $1B equity stake in Seattle Genetics as part of collaborations

Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Merck (MRK) announced two new strategic oncology collaborations.

The companies will globally develop and commercialize Seattle Genetics’ ladiratuzumab vedotin, an investigational antibody-drug conjugate, or ADC, targeting LIV-1, which is currently in phase 2 clinical trials for breast cancer and other solid tumors.

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The collaboration will pursue a broad joint development program evaluating ladiratuzumab vedotin as monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy Keytruda in triple-negative breast cancer, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and other LIV-1-expressing solid tumors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will receive a $600M upfront payment and Merck will make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

Seattle Genetics scores bug with Merck

In addition, Seattle Genetics is eligible for progress-dependent milestone payments of up to $2.6B.

Separately, Seattle Genetics has granted Merck an exclusive license to commercialize Tukysa, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of HER2-positive cancers, in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Seattle Genetics will receive $125M from Merck as an upfront payment and is eligible for progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M.

Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics and Merck will collaborate and equally share costs on the global development of ladiratuzumab vedotin and other LIV-1-targeting ADCs.

Breast cancer drug Liv-1 is expected to do well

The companies have agreed to jointly develop and share future costs and profits for ladiratuzumab vedotin on a 50:50 basis worldwide. Merck will pay Seattle Genetics $600M upfront and make a $1B equity investment in 5M shares of Seattle Genetics common stock at a price of $200 per share.

In addition, Seattle Genetics will be eligible to receive up to $2.6B in milestone payments, including $850M in development milestones and $1.75B in sales milestones.

The companies will jointly develop and commercialize ladiratuzumab vedotin and equally share profits worldwide.

The companies will co-commercialize in the U.S. and Europe. Seattle Genetics will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in Europe and in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, and will record sales in countries outside the U.S., Europe and Canada. Including the upfront payment, equity investment proceeds and potential milestone payments, Seattle Genetics is eligible to receive up to $4.2B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck has been granted exclusive rights to commercialize Tukysa in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Seattle Genetics retains commercial rights and will record sales in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Merck will be responsible for marketing applications for approval in its territory, supported by the positive results from the HER2CLIMB clinical trial.

Merck will also co-fund a portion of the Tukysa global development plan, which encompasses several ongoing and planned trials across HER2-positive cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric and other cancers set forth in a global product development plan.

Seattle Genetics will continue to lead ongoing Tukysa global development planning and operational execution.

Merck will solely fund and conduct country-specific clinical trials necessary to support anticipated regulatory applications in its territory.

Seattle Genetics will receive from Merck $125M as an upfront payment and is eligible to receive progress-dependent milestones of up to $65M. Seattle Genetics will also receive $85M in prepaid research and development payments to be applied to Merck’s global development funding obligations. In addition, Seattle Genetics would receive tiered royalties on sales of Tukysa in Merck’s territory.

SGEN is up 14.8% to $172.40. MRK is up 1.4% to $85.00.

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Momenta Pharmaceuticals sold for $6.5B

Johnson & Johnson to acquire Momenta Pharmaceuticals for $52.50/shr

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Momenta Pharmaceuticals (MNTA) in an all cash transaction for approximately $6.5 billion.

The transaction will include full global rights to nipocalimab (M281), a clinically validated, potentially best-in-class anti-FcRn antibody.

Momenta sold for $6.5B, Stockwinners

Nipocalimab gives Janssen the “opportunity to reach significantly more patients by pursuing indications across many autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet medical need in maternal-fetal disorders, neuro-inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and autoimmune hematology.

Nipocalimab recently received a rare pediatric disease designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Momenta’s expertise in FcRn mechanisms is especially important for nipocalimab as it supports and accelerates the development of a medicine designed to target a number of autoantibody-driven conditions across several of Janssen’s established therapeutic areas.

Janssen expects nipocalimab to contribute to its goals of achieving above-market growth over the mid and long term.

In addition to Momenta’s employees and lead asset nipocalimab, Janssen will acquire Momenta’s pipeline of clinical and preclinical assets.

Under the terms of the transaction, which was approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Vigor Sub, Inc. (Merger Sub), a newly formed wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (the Company), will commence a tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Momenta for $52.50 per share.

The closing of the offer is conditioned on the tender of a majority of the outstanding shares of Momenta’s common stock on a fully diluted basis, as well as clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.

The merger will be effected as soon as practicable after the closing of the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2020.

While the closing of the transaction is expected to be modestly dilutive, the Company is maintaining its current 2020 Adjusted EPSi guidance range.

Looking ahead, the costs associated with the development of Momenta’s portfolio are expected to be incremental to planned R&D investment levels over the next few years given the value creation potential of our current portfolio, and thus expect this incremental investment in R&D to have an EPS impact worth approximately 10c-15c in 2021.

Shares of MNTA are up 69% to $52.14 in morning trading. 

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U.S. sues Teva Pharmaceuticals for kickbacks

Justice Department files False Claims Act against Teva Pharmaceuticals

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint under the False Claims Act against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA. and Teva Neuroscience (TEVA), the maker of Copaxone, a drug for multiple sclerosis.

The government alleges that Teva conspired with a specialty pharmacy, Advanced Care Scripts, and two purportedly independent foundations, Chronic Disease Fund and The Assistance Fund, to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by using the foundations as conduits to subsidize Medicare co-pays for Copaxone, all while steadily raising Copaxone’s price, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Teva Pharma. is accused of offering kickbacks

The government alleges that, from 2006 through at least 2015, Teva paid the two foundations well over $300M with the intent and understanding that the foundations would use Teva’s money to cover the Medicare co-pays of patients taking Copaxone. During the same period, Teva raised the price of Copaxone from approximately $17,000 per year to over $73,000 per year, according to the DOJ.

Copaxone is used to treat multiple sclerosis

Copaxone is a brand-name prescription drug. It’s approved to treat certain forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults.

Chronic Disease Fund is accused of being part of the scheme

With MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the nerves. The damaged nerves then have trouble communicating with brain. This condition can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as muscle weakness and fatigue (lack of energy).

The Assistance Fund is accused of being part of the price kickback

Copaxone contains the active drug glatiramer acetate. It’s a disease-modifying therapy for MS. Copaxone helps to stop the immune system from attacking the nerves. The drug can reduce the number of MS relapses and also slow worsening of the disease.

Copaxone comes as a solution that’s given by subcutaneous injection (an injection under your skin).

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited is an Israeli pharmaceutical company. The firm develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes generic medicines, specialty medicines, and biopharmaceutical products in North America, Europe, and internationally. It is one of the largest generic drugmakers in the world.

Shares of Teva are down 9% to $10.52 in morning trading. 

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Gilead submits New Drug Application for Covid-19 Treatment

Gilead submits NDA to FDA for Veklury for COVID-19 treatment

Gilead Sciences (GILD) announced that it has submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for  Veklury® (remdesivir), an investigational antiviral for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

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Gilead files for NDA for Veklury

#Veklury is currently available in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19.

The filing is the final tier of the rolling NDA submission that was initiated on April 8, 2020.

The filing is supported by data from two randomized, open-label, multi-center Phase 3 clinical studies of Veklury conducted by Gilead and the Phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled study of Veklury conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

These studies demonstrated that treatment with Veklury led to faster time to recovery compared with placebo and that a 5-day or 10-day treatment duration led to similar clinical improvement.

Across studies, Veklury was generally well-tolerated in both the 5-day and 10-day treatment groups, with no new safety signals identified. Veklury has been approved by multiple regulatory authorities around the world, including in the European Union and Japan.

In countries where Veklury has not been approved, including the United States, Veklury is an investigational drug and the safety and efficacy of remdesivir have not been established.

Veklury has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any use.

In the United States, the FDA granted Veklury an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. This authorization is temporary and may be revoked, and it does not take the place of the formal new drug application submission, review and approval process.

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FDA approves Exact Sciences’ COVID-19 test

Exact Sciences receives revised EUA for COVID-19 test

A letter to Exact Sciences Laboratories (EXAS), dated August 3, posted to the site of the FDA states:

“On May 22, 2020, based on your request, the Food and Drug Administration issued a letter determining that your product met the criteria for issuance under section 564(c) of the Act to be eligible for authorization under the March 31, 2020, Emergency Use Authorization – EUA – for Molecular-based Laboratory Developed Tests for Detection of Nucleic Acid from SARS-CoV-2 for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider…

On July 17, 2020, FDA received a request from you to revise the Scope of Authorization, and thus the test’s intended use as originally specified by the High Complexity LDT Umbrella EUA, to include self-collection of nasal swab specimens that are self-collected at home or in a healthcare setting by individuals using an authorized home-collection kit specified in this EUA’s authorized labeling when determined to be appropriate by a healthcare provider, and to specify that testing is limited to Exact Sciences Laboratories at two locations..

Having concluded that the criteria for issuance of this authorization under Section 564(c) of the Act are met, I am authorizing the emergency use of your product, as described in the Scope of Authorization of this letter (Section II), subject to the terms of this authorization.”

Exact Sciences is known for it’s Cologuard, colon cancer detection test

The COVID-19 test is offered through US physicians and authorized healthcare providers. The test is intended for use with patients who meet the CDC’s current guidance for evaluation of COVID-19 infection.

EXAS last traded at $92.76.

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Sangamo signs deal with Novartis, shares jump

Sangamo executes global licensing agreement with Novartis for genomic medicines

Sangamo (SGMO) announced that it has executed a global licensing collaboration agreement with Novartis (NVS) to develop and commercialize gene regulation therapies to address three neurodevelopmental targets, including autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Sangamo signs distribution agreement with Novartis

The collaboration will leverage Sangamo’s propriety genome regulation technology, zinc finger protein transcription factors, or ZFP-TFs, to aim to upregulate the expression of key genes involved in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Zinc-finger protein transcription factors (ZFP TFs) can be designed to control the expression of any desired target gene, and thus provide potential therapeutic tools for the study and treatment of disease. 

Novartis receives positive CHMP opinion for Kymriah, Stockwinners
Novartis to use Sangamo to expand its markets

The collaboration will leverage ZFP-TFs engineered by Sangamo scientists in an effort to upregulate, or activate, the expression of genes that are inadequately expressed in individuals with certain types of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Under the terms of the agreement, over a three-year collaboration period, Novartis has exclusive rights to ZFP-TFs targeted to three undisclosed genes which are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD and intellectual disability.

Novartis also has the option to license Sangamo’s proprietary AAVs.

Sangamo’s proprietary AAVs

Sangamo is responsible for certain research and associated manufacturing activities, all of which will be funded by Novartis, and Novartis assumes responsibility for additional research activities, investigational new drug-enabling studies, clinical development, related regulatory interactions, manufacturing and global commercialization.

Under the collaboration agreement, Novartis will pay Sangamo a $75 million upfront license fee payment within thirty days.

In addition, Sangamo is eligible to earn up to $720 million in other development and commercial milestone payments, including up to $420 million in development milestones and up to $300 million in commercial milestones.

Sangamo is also eligible to receive from Novartis tiered high single-digit to sub-teen double-digit royalties on potential net commercial sales of products arising from the collaboration.

SGMO is up 15% to $11.40. NVS is down 22 cents to $84.19.

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