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Thursday, February 9, 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, visit STAT. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

Tesaro's looking mighty tasty

PARP inhibitors are gaining fans: Looks like Tesaro is a top takeover target for several drug makers, Reuters reports. 

Those rumors sent its stock soaring 12 percent yesterday, to $182.68 per share, meaning Tesaro’s value now is scraping $10 billion. That might put it out of buyout reach, at least for now. We'll be watching what happens when the company discloses more data about its seemingly potent ovarian cancer drug, niraparib.

Meanwhile, Clovis Oncology, a PARP competitor, saw a modest stock increase after rumors of an impending Tesaro buyout started to circulate. It closed out trading at $63.41.

Trenchant commentary from the peanut gallery: 

The etymology of Prozac

Naming drugs is truly an art: The label needs to make a good first impression, so as to encourage FDA approval, and it ought to sound appealing to consumers.

How do companies come up with them? With "thesauri and Google, of course, but also cowboy dictionaries, surfer dictionaries, encyclopedias of gems and minerals, Sanskrit rhyming dictionaries, and the big book of sports metaphors, to name just a few sources," branding expert Mike Pile writes in a STAT First Opinion.

He talks of consulting a poet for inspiration on one project. And of scouring the 1938 edition of “The Glossary of Meteorological Terms” for another.

Read more. 

You know what’s cool? $50 million

That’s how much the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has promised to a crop of researchers, part of that oft-cited plan to cure every single disease in the world.

The program — led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan — promises up to $1.5 million over three years to each of 47 investigators. The winning projects include delving into the biology of psychiatric disorders, tinkering with CRISPR, and creating a social network for proteins.

And they’ll all have to be transparent. One of Biohub’s rules is that all sponsored scientists must share manuscript preprints online.

The rapid financial half-life of curing disease

Curing disease might be bad for business, as Adam Feuerstein points out: Gilead Sciences took a 10 percent stock hit yesterday upon news that revenues for its terrifically effective hepatitis C drugs could fall nearly by half this year.

Once patients are cured, they're obviously unlikely to be repeat customers. So although Gilead's revenues reached $32 billion in 2015, largely from Harvoni and Sovaldi, it's projecting revenues more in the $7.5 billion range this year.

But really, don't cry for Gilead. The company minted money in the early days of its drug approval, and has room to grow in international markets. Plus it has about $32 billion on hand.

All of which leads Feuerstein to a slightly less sardonic conclusion: “Maybe, it’s fairer to say curing disease can be great for business — until it’s not.”

The entrepreneurial spirit lives on

Undaunted by social media banishment, popular protest, and the small matter of a federal accusation of securities fraud, Martin Shkreli is back in business.

As CNBC reported, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO is out raising money for a tech startup. Shkreli first mentioned the company, Godel Systems, in a January Facebook post, calling it an “enterprise software startup” that is hiring developers and seeking accredited investors.

And, ever resourceful, Shkreli has also monetized his personal brand: For just $15, you can grab a seat at “An Evening with Martin Shkreli,” where he will “discuss investing, healthcare and politics in a presentation/lecture format.” Tickets are still available.

More reads

  • Sanofi, Regeneron win a crucial stay of execution on Praulent. (Endpoints)
  • India's Modi cuts ties with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over immunization. (Economic Times)

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Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

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