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The Readout

The uphill battle of being a women’s health biotech

Antiva Biosciences thinks it has a pretty good pitch. Every year, about 500,000 women need surgery for precancerous cervical lesions. Antiva’s drug, if it works, could make that procedure unnecessary, potentially saving money and avoiding reproductive damage.

But to male investors and OB/GYNs, that pitch hasn’t always been compelling, the company said.

“It’s very safe to say that we got more traction in VC firms where there was a woman partner who was in a decision-making role,” Antiva CEO Gail Maderis told STAT’s Rebecca Robbins. “It’s just much easier for them to relate to the need for this.”

Antiva’s experience is microcosmic of an issue facing companies in women’s health, a field that many believe has long been given short shrift in terms of money and ideas.

Read more.

Hong Kong’s first biotech IPO isn’t going great



Two weeks after being the first pre-profit biotech company to take advantage of Hong Kong’s loosened IPO regulations, Ascletis Pharma is ailing.

The company has lost about 42 percent of its value since going public, as the underwriters’ valiant efforts to prop up the price on day one eventually gave way to market skepticism.

Ascletis is but one company, but its post-IPO performance marks an inauspicious start for Hong Kong’s breathlessly covered embrace of biotech. Nine other biotech companies have filed to go public on the exchange, but only one has successfully priced an offering. And that company, BeiGene, was a known quantity, already listed on the Nasdaq.

What’s happening at Gilead?

In the past six months, four top executives at Gilead Sciences have either left the company or made plans to do so. The latest, Chief Medical Officer Andrew Cheng, disclosed his plans Tuesday.

Is that a sign of something amiss at the company? On the one hand, each of the departing executives had been with the company for more than a decade, and changing jobs is a thing people do. But on the other hand, Cheng got promoted to CMO just five months ago, and John Milligan, the company’s departing CEO, held that job for only two years.

As STAT’s Ed Silverman points out, Gilead is at something of a crossroads. Sales fell 21 percent in the quarter ended June 30 and profits dropped 41 percent. The company’s blockbuster hepatitis C business is on the wane, and only time will tell whether its $11 billion bet on cancer immunotherapy can lead to a lucrative future.

People are really bullish on Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug

EPVantage ran the numbers on analysts’ expectations of in-development drugs, and it turns out the most valuable molecule in whole biopharma pipeline is a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The present value of Biogen’s aducanumab is $11.5 billion, according to EPVantage’s dive into analysts’ projections. That’s despite the drug industry's 15 years of failure in Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s despite the fact that Biogen has to split future aducanumab profits roughly 50-50 with its partner Eisai.

Regardless, Wall Street values Biogen’s drug higher than Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ next cystic fibrosis treatment, which commands a present value of $10.4 billion despite being widely expected to actually work in Phase 3.

More reads

  • A rare genetic aversion to sweets could be key to fighting obesity. (Bloomberg)
  • Express Scripts is staking out million-dollar gene therapies. (Reuters)
  • How Unpaywall is transforming open science. (Nature)
  • Eli Lilly's Elanco may be 2018's biggest IPO. (Renaissance Capital)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,


Thursday, August 16, 2018


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