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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Takeda’s new acquisition is particularly meaningful

Takeda will buy Maverick Therapeutics for up to $525 million — a relatively small deal in terms of dollars, but a meaningful one for the company and, in particular, for the company’s R&D chief Andrew Plump. As STAT’s Matthew Herper writes, Takeda has been involved in Maverick since its second round of financing, employing a “build to buy” strategy — with aims to buy the company if it proved successful. 

So far, it has. Maverick’s lead drug, a T-cell therapy that targets solid tumor cancers, is being tested in a Phase 1 clinical trial. The company’s platform focuses on developing immunotherapies to directly target certain tumors.

“It’s very rare for someone in my position to have the privilege to see something like this through," Plump said. "Usually as an R&D head, you’re defined by the success of your predecessor.” 

Maverick, he said, may offer a chance for him to “see some of the seeds that we planted come to fruition.” 

Read more.

Pharma aims to hold tight to Covid-19 patent protections

More than two dozen of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are asking President Biden to reject a proposal to temporarily waive patent rights on Covid-19 products. In a recent letter from PhRMA, they claim that such IP wouldn’t prevent Covid-19 medicines and prophylactics from becoming available globally, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes.

Rather, eliminating patent protections would instead stymie the global response to the pandemic, companies like Merck, Pfizer, and Novartis say, “including ongoing efforts to tackle new variants, create confusion that could potentially undermine public confidence in vaccine safety, and create a barrier to information sharing.” 

That runs counter to the arguments made by the governments of India and South Africa, which put the proposal before the World Trade Organization last fall. Their take: IP restrictions would prevent low-income countries from accessing critical vaccines and therapies. 

Read more.

Can new data help Rubius Therapeutics rehab its reputation?

Flagship Pioneering spinout Rubius Therapeutics has been working to transform red blood cells into cancer-fighting drugs — and will be disclosing early data on their efficacy against advanced solid tumors in the next few weeks.

Those results could present an opportunity to resuscitate its reputation, STAT’s Adam Feuerstein writes: Despite its splashy entrance onto the biotech scene back in 2013 and, at one point, a $2 billion valuation with no clinical validation, the Rubius has floundered. The company’s technology has been plagued by manufacturing delays, operational disarray, and clinical letdowns. 

Read more.

Covid-19’s impact on the pace of drug development

Will the lightning-fast development and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics upend these timelines for the broader biopharmaceutical industry? According to a poll we ran yesterday, the outlook isn't optimistic: 59% of you believe drug development will continue to plod along at the same decade-long pace. 

However, 41% of our trusty readers do believe that there’s no going back, now that we’ve seen how fast these technologies can be created, approved, and disseminated. Time will tell whether Covid-19 will indeed change the pace of biopharmaceutical innovation. 

More reads

  • AnaptysBio takes a beating as its lead drug fails its first Phase 2 test. (Endpoints)
  • FDA reviews accelerated approvals as two drug makers withdraw bladder cancer indications. (STAT)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Damian

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

STAT

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