We know now where MassBio chief Bob Coughlin is headed. JLL reports that Coughlin is joining the brokers hatching new real estate development deals for the busy hub in and around Boston/Cambridge. His new title: managing director in the firm’s life sciences industry practice.
Coughlin announced earlier in the week that he’s stepping down after a lengthy run at the industry group, which has grown enormously under his stewardship. And the role puts him in direct contact with every company looking to expand or build in the region.
The former state legislator was also Undersecretary of Economic Development within Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, which gives him even more connections in state government. Coughlin starts early in 2021 and his line is open. He offered a mission statement in today’s release:
Biotechs need a strong partner who can help them identify opportunities to optimize their portfolios, whether it’s through site selection, tax incentives or operational efficiencies. I’m eager to help them improve their real estate assets so they can focus on research, development and solving unmet medical needs for patients.”
— John Carroll
Keytruda-Lenvima combo meets co-primary endpoints in advanced endometrial cancer
One of the biggest cash cows in the world continues to churn out data in yet another cancer indication.
Merck announced Wednesday morning that its blockbuster Keytruda drug posted positive Phase III results in advanced endometrial cancer, in combination with Eisai’s Lenvima. The combo met its dual primary endpoints of overall survival and progression-free survival, as well as a secondary endpoint of objective response rate in patients with the disease who’d had at least one prior platinum-based treatment.
The study enrolled 827 patients and were randomized 1:1 to receive either the combination therapy or standard chemo. Merck and Eisai did not disclose any data or p-values, however. The pair is evaluating the combination in 13 different tumor types across 20 clinical trials.
Through the first three quarters of 2020, Keytruda had pulled in over $12.5 billion for Merck. — Max Gelman
Novartis cannabis partner Tilray merges with Canadian producer Aphria, creating a $3.9B company
A major collaborator of Novartis’ Sandoz group in the medicinal marijuana business is merging with a high-profile Canadian producer, forming what the pair say will be the largest cannabis business in the world.
Sandoz partner Tilray announced Wednesday it’s merging with Aphria, creating a company with a pro forma equity value of roughly $3.9 billion. Had the two operated as a single entity over the last 12 months, they say their revenue would have totaled about $685 million. The two companies will operate under the Tilray name and trade under its ticker, $TLRY, once the deal closes.
In the US, the new company is aiming to further market products from two brands: SweetWater, a cannabis lifestyle branded craft brewer, and Manitoba Harvest, a manufacturer of hemp, CBD and wellness products.
Tilray, which supplies cannabis flower and extract products to patients, physicians, healthcare facilities and researchers in 15 countries, also has an existing alliance with Sandoz Canada. Under its deal with Sandoz from December 2018, Tilray receives support in commercializing and branding non-smokable/non-combustible products, while supplying and licensing such products to and from Sandoz AG. — Max Gelman
Novo takes another stab at Alzheimer’s, once again testing the link to diabetes
For some years now investigators have been busy exploring the apparent link between diabetes, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s. Takeda tried, and failed, with Actos. Novo turned to Victoza.
And now the Danish pharma company is going back into Phase III, only this time turning to Rybelsus (semaglutide) to see if it works in early-stage disease. Novo will recruit 3,700 patients for the placebo-controlled study, using the 14 mg oral dose.
Novo CSO Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen had this to say:
Alzheimer’s disease has been an area of extensive research in the past decades, unfortunately without any major medical breakthroughs. Due to the growing unmet medical need and the increasing evidence of a potential therapeutic role for GLP-1, we will investigate the benefits of oral semaglutide in early Alzheimer’s disease.
— John Carroll