Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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.

There are second acts in biotech

Mitch Gold, the former CEO of famed biotech flameout Dendreon, will be CEO of a public company once more thanks to a reverse merger. But in light of a damaging shareholder lawsuit, are investors ready to trust him again?

If Gold’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he presided over the thrilling rise and precipitous decline of a company once billed as a trailblazer. Gold stepped down in 2012 as the company’s cancer drug foundered on the market and shareholders sued on claims that Dendreon’s management inflated the product’s potential while selling shares to line their pockets.

Gold and his team settled that suit for $40 million in 2013, never admitting guilt. But the Dendreon saga has weighed on the company’s expatriates, including the leaders of Juno Therapeutics, which has run into investor-irking setbacks of its own.

Now we’ll see whether Alpine Immune Sciences, Gold’s new firm, can escape the shadow of his most famous exploits.

Arizona's AG sticks it to Theranos

Arizona’s getting payback. From Theranos, that is. 

The embattled diagnostics startup has agreed to return $4.65 million to the 175,000 Arizonans who took its blood tests, quickly settling a state consumer fraud lawsuit

“Everyone who paid for a test will receive a full refund, period,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. 

Read more.

PhRMA goes that much more boldly

The industry's biggest lobbying group is betting that putting a human face on R&D will help mend its reputation. (PHRMA)

The drug industry's multimillion-dollar effort to shake off years of bad press is taking a new tack: get personal.

The latest iteration of PhRMA's "Go Boldly" campaign strives to make the link between pharma-paid scientists and the patients who stand to benefit from their work.

The most affecting new ad interweaves an Alzheimer's disease researcher and a patient diagnosed with the disorder, each talking about the potential for a cure. "I may not benefit from those breakthroughs," begins Brian, the patient, only to tear up and trail off as the music swells.

The latest spots are part of a campaign designed to repair the drug industry's ailing reputation, one further sullied with each new drug pricing controversy. But what remains unclear is whether PhRMA's case — that drug companies do difficult, expensive, and promising science — can allay bipartisan claims that they simply charge too much for the result.

A homecoming lure for CROs

Clinical research organizations are teed up for a tax break, if a new bill called the Domestic Research Enhancement Act moves through Congress. 

Pharma companies have gotten R&D tax credits for decades, and the new legislation would extend it to CROs — increasing the incentive to do their work stateside. That’d be a big shift, considering that many of these outfits carry out their research abroad.

Can it pass? It's early yet. But the bill already has both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors in the House. And it would fit with President Trump's "hire American" agenda.

Read more on STAT Plus.

More reads

  • How drug company "benevolence" silences the sick. (Bloomberg View)
  • Vertex CEO Jeff Leiden saw his pay package fall by 40 percent in 2016. (FiercePharma)
  • The SEC subpoenaed Northwest Bio over its business practices. (TheStreet)
  • The fight against tropical diseases needs a Big Pharma push, according to the WHO. (Reuters)

Have a news tip or comment you want to send us?

Send us an email

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

Enjoy this email? Tell your friends and coworkers to sign up here.