Wednesday, May 17, 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.

The 5 most overpaid pharma CEOs in the world

Everyone loves to debate the eight-figure pay packages pharma CEOs take home each year. Compensation critics argue that pretty much no one deserves that much money, while the companies’ boards claim they reward only the executives who get results.

So we did some math, looking at three years of pharma CEO pay and comparing it against total shareholder return, a widely used metric for gauging a company’s performance. Most CEOs saw their pay rise or fall with their firm’s fate, but we found five pharma execs who got sizable raises that far outpaced investor return.

Read more. And check out our spreadsheet listing CEO pay, shareholder return, and corporate revenue at 28 of the biggest pharma companies worldwide.

Anyone care who wins the biopharma Olympics?

From CRISPR to CAR-T, the frenetic world of biopharma spawns race after race, and fuels some interesting discussion, too: When companies share platforms but not indications, what difference does it make to be first? 

Take Editas. Endpoints wrote that the gene editing company just lost “its lead in the biotech race” to launch the first CRISPR trial in humans, with CRISPR Therapeutics pulling ahead on that particular milestone. That prompted Matthew Herper of Forbes to ask: Who cares?

After all, if two related companies are chasing different patient populations, such as CAR-T players Kite Pharma and Novartis, why does it matter who gets that IND filed first? 

We want your take: Does the horse race matter? Click to vote.

It matters not.

It counts! Especially for investors. And patients. And bragging rights.

Sponsor content by Halloran Consulting Group

How to foster a culture of innovation

A culture of innovation should be a top priority of every enterprise because it is the driver of higher value for customers and could translate into success when compared to competitors. Innovation belongs in all functions and levels of an organization. Even a “low-tech” company needs to find faster, higher quality, lower cost ways of delivering its products and services. To learn how your business can better support an innovative culture, click here.

Moderna is completely boxed in when it comes to intellectual property

That’s according to the guy at the center of a legal fight that could have major implications for biotech’s biggest unicorn.

Mark Murray, CEO of Arbutus, told Forbes yesterday that Moderna won’t be able to follow through on its promise to turn mRNA into an industry-changing technology without going through his company. That’s because Moderna is using Arbutus’ drug delivery know-how through an agreement with a third party. Arbutus is suing that third party, and if it’s successful, Moderna could be left out in the cold.

Here’s another interesting wrinkle: Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel has downplayed the importance of the legal fight, saying the Arbutus technology is mediocre at best and insisting that his company has developed an even better delivery method of its own. When STAT asked Bancel about that new technology in January, he said it was all laid out in Moderna’s patent filings.

But Murray says he’s looked over the entirety of Moderna’s patent estate and sees little in the way of original delivery ideas. “In our view what they are reporting as theirs appears to be dominated by our intellectual property,” he told Forbes.

That’s an argument we may hear again in court.

Califf + Conrad = BFFs

Looks like Verily will be swapping out one bio-politico for another: While Dr. Tom Insel, formerly of the National Institute of Mental Health, has left the Google offshoot, it looks like former FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf will be signing on.

It’s not a surprise: Califf has deep ties to Verily CEO Andrew Conrad, as they worked together on a nascent version of the Baseline study.  

Read more. 

More reads

  • Biotech upstart Synlogic is going public through a reverse merger. (Boston Globe)
  • Congressional investigators are looking into whether Representative Chris Collins acted unethically in promoting the biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics. (Buffalo News)
  • Using fungus to kill malarial mosquitoes. (STAT)

Correction: In yesterday's newsletter, we said "Medicare" when we meant "Medicaid," and vice versa. We regret the error but are quite grateful to the readers who pointed it out.

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Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

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