Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Readout by Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Welcome to The Readout, where we keep you on top of the latest in biotech. For more in-depth coverage of biopharma, subscribe to STAT Plus. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

Takeda and Shire: Now what?

The thing about protracted takeover situations is sometimes the mergers go through and then the parties are left breathless and confused like Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross at the end of “The Graduate.”

Takeda’s head scientist says that’s not going to be the case once his company metabolizes Shire, which agreed to a $62 billion buyout yesterday. Speaking to STAT’s Ed Silverman, Dr. Andrew Plump said the Japanese drug maker is thinking about how to “rationalize the pipeline” once it absorbs Shire and its portfolio of rare disease treatments.

Two years ago, Takeda went through a rationalization of its own, Plump said, moving away from cardiovascular and metabolic disease to focus on what it’s best at.

“Did we get everything right? We probably didn’t, but directionally, I think we’ve done quite well,” he said. “... The intent of the acquisition is not to change our direction, but accelerate what we’ve already begun.”

Read more.

The competition between biotech analysts is getting weird

Every year, sell-side analysts from Wall Street’s biggest banks ingratiate themselves to investor clients in the hope of winning enough votes to secure a coveted spot on Institutional Investor’s All-America Research Team. Some analysts ask for “II” votes with a polite email solicitation. Others arrange extra conference calls or dinners with management teams.

Michael Yee made a bobblehead doll.

The lead biotech analyst from Jefferies sent his head-swiveling doppelganger to clients this week, along with a handwritten note asking for their II vote. The Yee bobblehead is handsome — and no doubt persuasive — with one minor quibble. Yee’s Wall Street nickname is Yeezus, so we would have swapped out the suit for a flowing scarlet robe.

I mean, if you’re going to grovel, you might as well grovel biblically.

We now wait to see if Leerink analyst Geoff Porges takes up Yee’s II challenge. We suggest a recording of his voice for a new Waze plug-in.

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Who knew Bill Gates was a movie buff? 

Bill Gates is apparently a big fan of movies about bioterrorism and pandemics. “I watch a lot of movies,” Gates admitted in a recent conversation with STAT reporters and editors. Among his favorites: Steven Soderbergh‘s “Contagion;” Ron Howard’s “Inferno;” and the TV series “24,” starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Read more.

West Virginia Senate race to pit two with pharma ties 

Patrick Morrisey's victory last night in West Virginia's Republican senate primary gives voters there a choice between two candidates with close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. 

Morrisey has lobbied for a trade group that represents many of the drug wholesalers called before Congress on Tuesday to explain their role in the opioid epidemic. His wife, Denise Morrisey, has also lobbied on behalf of one of those drug distributors, Cardinal Health; currently lobbies on behalf of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization; and is listed on recent disclosures for Sanofi, Merck, and Novartis, among others. 

Incumbent Joseph Manchin III, meanwhile, is the father of Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan. Senate Republicans' campaign arm has already sought to tie him to that company's now-infamous price hikes of its EpiPen injector, sending a protester dressed as a syringe to a recent photo op of his in Washington. Given the Morriseys' past work on pharma issues, his selection as the GOP's nominee could preclude further attacks on Manchin on the issue of drug pricing. 


More reads from STAT

  • Novartis is caught up in the investigation into Trump attorney Michael Cohen. (STAT)
  • The U.S. faces an EpiPen shortage. (Bloomberg)

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Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,


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