Thursday, May 26, 2016

AbbVie & Al$heimer's

"AbbVie bases Alzheimer’s effort in Cambridge" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  May 19, 2016

CAMBRIDGE — AbbVie Inc. will direct an effort to cure Alzheimer’s disease from its new research facility in Cambridge.

The drug maker, based in North Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday formally opened a 43,000-square-foot Foundational Neuroscience Center on two floors of a former Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. building on Sidney Street.

AbbVie vice president Eric Karran, a biopharma veteran hired from the United Kingdom to lead the new center, said its mission is ambitious: to take on Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative disease estimated to affect more than 40 million people worldwide.

The center, which moved its first employees into the refurbished space in April, will hire about 50 people — mostly scientists and researchers — by next year. AbbVie received a $525,000 tax break from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center last month based on a commitment to hire 35 employees here and at its much larger facility in Worcester during 2016.

AbbVie, spun off from Abbott Laboratories three years ago, has focused on drug discovery primarily in the fields of immunology, virology, and cancer. But when Michael Severino was hired from Amgen Inc. in 2014 to be AbbVie’s chief scientific officer, he decided to make a play in neuroscience and set up a research outpost in the biomedical cluster around Cambridge and Boston.

SeeAmgen reports big rise in quarterly profit

In an interview on his visit to the new office, Severino said academic and industry researchers have made enough progress in understanding the pathology involved in Alzheimer’s that it makes sense to invest resources in drug discovery. Other companies, including Biogen Inc., Eli Lilly & Co., and Merck & Co., already have Alzheimer’s drug candidates. But while there are treatments for symptoms, there are still no disease-modifying therapies.

There are some job cuts coming down at Biogen, so hold your horses:

Cambridge startup teams up with Biogen on hemophilia drugs
Biogen to spin off hemophilia business
Biogen could get $6b for hemophilia business, analyst says

It's okay with Europe; must have been the ads as seen on TV.

"Biogen, which last year announced job cuts and other cost reductions to offset weak earnings, easily topped Wall Street expectations for the first quarter and shares rose sharply Thursday. Net income rose to $971 million."

Gotta keep that blood flowing.

Meanwhile, over at Merck:

"Merck will pay $830 million to resolve a federal class-action lawsuit involving shareholders and the painkiller Vioxx, which the drugmaker pulled from the market years ago over safety concerns. Merck said Friday that the case involved people who purchased its securities between 1999 and 2004. The litigation focused on statements Merck made regarding Vioxx’s cardiovascular safety. Merck & Co. Inc. removed Vioxx from the market in 2004 after evidence showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. The Justice Department has said that the company made false statements about Vioxx to increase sales. Merck said the settlement doesn’t constitute an admission of any liability or wrongdoing."

They are working on a hepatitis drug with Harvard now and things are looking good (don't expect a refund, though).

While the Cambridge site is AbbVie’s first foothold in the Boston area, the company is no stranger to Massachusetts. The campus in Worcester it inherited from Abbott employs about 800 people in immunology drug research, protein engineering, and manufacturing small batches of biotech drugs for clinical trials. That site was involved in the development of Humira, the rheumatoid arthritis drug that is AbbVie’s best known product.

In 2014, AbbVie pulled out of its agreement to acquire Shire PLC — which is based in Ireland, though its management sits in Lexington — after the US Treasury Department said it was imposing new rules to prevent companies from capitalizing on the foreign domicile of merger partners to lower their corporate taxes.... 

I have no wish to return there.



"The health care sector saw a lot of deal action Thursday, with Abbott Laboratories spending $25 billion for another device maker, while its pharma spinoff AbbVie Inc. plunked down nearly $6 billion for a biotech developing a raft of cancer treatments. Meanwhile Sanofi, the French drug maker that owns Genzyme in Cambridge, made a $9.3 billion bid for San Francisco pharmaceutical firm Medivation, part of its effort to expand its portfolio of cancer treatments. Medivation has so far resisted overtures from Sanofi. Abbott Labs’ purchase of St. Jude Medical Inc. is its biggest ever and aims to strengthen the medical device maker’s stake in cardiovascular care. The combined company will offer devices in nearly every area of cardiovascular care. And AbbVie, which was spun out of Abbot as a separate company in 2013, agreed to buy Stemcentrx Inc. for $5.8 billion. Fidelity Investments is among those that stand to profit in the deal, having invested tens of millions of dollars in Stemcentrx last August, in several of its mutual funds. Based in San Francisco, Stemcentrx has five experimental drugs in human trials, with its leading candidate a treatment for small-cell lung cancer, a deadly subset of the disease with few existing options for treatment. The drug, known as Rova-T, could be on the market by 2018 and eventually have sales of as much as $5 billion a year, according to AbbVie chief executive Rick Gonzalez."

As they develop there is more room to grow and they will no doubt ri$e before falling back to Earth.

"Jittery investors dumped shares of Alere Inc. on Wednesday amid sudden fears that its blockbuster $5.8 billion deal to be acquired by Abbott Laboratories might be in jeopardy. The selloff, sending Waltham-based Alere’s stock down more than 12 percent by day’s end, was triggered by Abbott chief executive Miles White’s refusal to answer questions about the Alere buyout during a conference call with stock analysts. That fueled speculation that Abbott, a global health care company based outside Chicago, might be reassessing the takeover. White cited Alere’s delay in filing a regulatory report with the Securities and Exchange Commission and its disclosure the Justice Department had subpoenaed documents from the Waltham company in a foreign corruption inquiry into its sales practices in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Alere last month disclosed it would miss the March 15 deadline for filing the SEC report because it was gathering information on how it recognized foreign revenue." 

Government reject it, did they?

"Fourteen years after it was spun out from Johnson & Johnson, Waltham-based Alere Inc., a maker of medical diagnostics products, will be folded into another giant health care company. Abbott Laboratories said Monday that it agreed to buy Alere for $5.8 billion, a vote of confidence in a company that has quietly grown into a global leader in devices used for so-called point-of-care tests performed at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, and patients’ homes."

"Waltham-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has agreed to acquire Affymetrix Inc. in a deal valued at about $1.3 billion, adding technology used by scientists and biologists to analyze specimens at the cellular and genetic level. JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Thermo Fisher on the deal. Morgan Stanley was Affymetrix’s financial adviser."

It's board rejected the advice.

Also seeAbbVie slides as US agency questions Humira patent

Place your bets

I'm not trying to be flip, but I'm going to forget about blogging for the rest of today.

UPDATE: Biogen wins FDA approval on new multiple sclerosis drug

Also see:

Biogen stock hammered on dismal drug results

Biogen to end Cambridge drug production

It's a move that could idle up to 285 workers as the company consolidates. 

Mass. biotechs cut nearly 70 jobs after drug setbacks

Talk about chutzpah.


Infinity Pharma cuts 100 jobs after AbbVie deal is terminated

Research consortium aims to speed up development of Alzheimer’s therapy