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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
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Shareholders Before Patients?

It's been a great month for Gilead Sciences in the clinic; when it comes to public relations, maybe not so much.

It all happened in Barcelona, where the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) annual meeting just wrapped up (without me in attendance, unfortunately). All eyes were on Gilead and GS-7977, the hepatitis C nucleotide NS5B inhibitor it acquired for the kingly sum of More...
More By Karl Thiel

Gilead dominated clinical news this month, but there were other important developments as well. GlaxoSmithKline's once-weekly diabetes drug albiglutide could pose a challenge to Novo Nordisk's Victoza--also under fire from some patient advocates (see Legal Briefs)--as well as Amylin's Byetta. At least, that's what GSK thinks after reviewing top line results from seven of eight registration studies. More detailed data will be available late this year and early 2013, but the company believes signs are pointing to a filing. -KT
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD)-Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY)'s Experimental Hepatitis C Drug Cured 88% Post-Therapy
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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to File GLP-1 Diabetes Drug Albiglutide as Data Impresses
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AVI BioPharma, Inc. (AVII): Eteplirsen Study Shows No Significant Improvement in Walking
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New Genentech (RHHBY) Breast Cancer Drug Shows Late Stage Trial Success
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Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX), AEterna Zentaris (AEZS) Colorectal Cancer Drug Fails Trial
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More Bench To Clinic News
We've gotten used to shareholder activism at biotech companies, but Big Pharma isn't immune either. David Brennan has failed to impress as CEO of AstraZeneca and is still associated with the wildly expensive $15.6 billion purchase of MedImmune in 2007. While there is as yet no public, Carl Icahn-style activist campaign for his ouster, the Financial Times says pressure for change is mounting among major shareholders.

While few folks will shed tears for Vertex CEO Matthew Emmens, his drop in pay is a reminder that stock options can cut both ways. Emmens has seen plenty of success since he took the reins of the company but thanks to some events largely beyond his control--we're looking at you, Gilead!--the stock hasn't done well. Although it may not have helped much in Emmens' case, more boards should consider indexed stock options as a way to reward executives. -KT
Some AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Investors Want CEO Replaced
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Former Vertex Pharmaceuticals (MA) (VRTX) CEO Saw 10 Percent Pay Cut
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Baxter International, Inc. (BAX)'s $1 Billion Plant to Bring 1,500 High-paying Jobs to Metro Atlanta
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New Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (TEVA) CEO May Dilute R&D
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Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OPTR) Strips Chairman of Title, Fires CFO and Another Exec
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More Career Track News
Roche may be walking away from Illumina (or could it be bluffing?), but there's a new poker game in town. At stake: Will GlaxoSmithKline go all-in for Human Genome Sciences? HGS has rejected GSK's $13-a-share bid as insufficient. The biotech may now be looking for white knight offers, but it has long worked with GSK and the companies partner on the lupus drug Benlysta, so it's a sensible tie-up. The strategy now is for HGS to maximize the initial bid, which came at an 81% premium but was still well below the company's 52-week high. Many investors have wondered why GSK hasn't put more effort into selling Benlysta, and this distraction probably won't help.

And gout is certainly in the news. Not only is AstraZeneca buying Ardea, but Takeda is paying $800 million for URL Pharma and its gout therapy. -KT
Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (HGSI) Rejects GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)'s $2.6 Billion Bid, Seeks Higher Offers
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Roche (RHHBY) Ready to Walk Away From $6.8 Billion Illumina, Inc. (ILMN) Bid
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Amgen (AMGN) to Pay $315 Million for Privately-Held KAI Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AMLN) Explores Sale, Hires Bankers: Sources; Is AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Interested?
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AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) to Acquire Ardea Biosciences, Inc. for $1.26 Billion Including Lead Product Lesinurad in Phase III Development for Gout
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More Golden Handshakes News

Top Jobs
• Biotech Bay (Sunnyvale, California)

Pharmacyclics, Inc.
Vice President/Senior Vice President, Global Quality
Responsible for overseeing Pharmacyclic's global quality strategy and policy development and directing the functional resources for the company. Responsible for developing, implementing and communicating the company's quality strategy and programs, including quality assurance, quality control, manufacturing-related compliance and QA and QC, and, on a broader basis, total quality management throughout the organization etc.

• BioMidwest (Deerfield, Illinois)

Astellas Pharma US
Vice President, Global Medical Head
Responsible for overseeing, the design and delivery of the Medical Science components of the clinical development programs within a Therapeutic Area (TA) Group. Ensures that medical expertise and scientific excellence is incorporated in to clinical plans across all phases of drug development.Reports to the SVP, Therapeutic Area Head, and contributes to leadership in the TA and participates in the creation and execution of objectives and 1-3 year strategic plans etc.

• Genetown (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Epizyme, Inc.
Director/ Sr. Director, Intellectual Property
Reporting directly to the CEO, the Director/ Sr. Director of IP will be completely hands on in formulating, driving, and executing strategy as well as providing counsel to clients at all levels of management. Duties: Devise and implement integrated patent strategies for small molecule pharmaceutical development in novel biological space etc.

• Biotech Beach (San Diego, California)

HUYA Bioscience International
Chief Scientific Officer
The successful candidate will be capable of critically analyzing and accurately summarizing a wide range of preclinical and clinical data in a broad range of therapeutic areas, evaluating programs for scientific merit and competitive advantage, managing preclinical and early clinical development programs, as well as interacting with Chinese and western pharmaceutical partners.

Get Noticed! Add your resume to the BioSpace Career Center!
See more than 5,000 job postings in the BioSpace Career Center!

Pharm Country Career Fair Pharm Country Career Fair
Radisson Valley Forge, Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 11am - 4pm. Job seekers can spend a day with HR representatives and Hiring Managers from top biotech, pharma, and medical device companies in the tri-state area..
Bio NC Career Fair Bio NC Career Fair
Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center, Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 11am to 4pm. Job seekers can spend a day with HR representatives and Hiring Managers from top biotech, pharma, and medical device companies in the south east region.
A few weeks ago I noted new kinds of hybrid venture capital funds forming, and there is more of that this month. Merck, which last month teamed with the California Institute for Biomedical Research on early-stage research, has teamed with Flagship Ventures for another shot at early opportunities. And Paypal founder/Facebook investor Peter Thiel (no relation, sadly) is offering up seed funding to bold ideas in the life sciences. It will be interesting to see how the VC industry continues to evolve. -KT
Merck Teams With Flagship to Bankroll Biotech Start-ups
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Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs Awards Cash to 6 Ambitious Biotech Startups
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BioVentures Closes $268 Million Life Sciences Fund
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Hyperion Therapeutics Files for $58 Million US IPO
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Supernus Pharmaceuticals Sets Terms for $75 Million US IPO
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More Money Talk News

Amylin is attracting suitors, and activist investor Carl Icahn is upset the company isn't paying attention. Citing the fact that Amylin didn't disclose a buyout offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Icahn decided to sue. He wants--surprise, surprise--to get his own nominees on its board and for it to pursue a sale. The company is entertaining other bids, and AstraZeneca is rumored to be an interested party--although the pharma giant is this far remaining mum on the subject (see Golden Handshakes). -KT
Icahn Sues Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AMLN) in Shake-up Try
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U.S. Court Invalidates Two Sanofi (France) (SAN.PA) Taxotere Patents
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Consumer Group to FDA: Pull Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO)'s Victoza Off the Market
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Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Execs to Stand Trial for Cover-up of Drug Trial Results
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FDA Finds More Fake Batches of Roche (RHHBY)'s Avastin Cancer Drug in U.S.
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More Legal Briefs News
Investors continue to closely watch over prospective obesity treatments, and there were plenty of opinions about the meaning behind FDA's decision to delay its advisory panel meeting on Vivus' Qnexa. Bottom line: Probably not a lot. But it does push consideration of the drug out past the June 27 PDUFA date for Arena Pharmaceuticals' rival drug lorcaserin. Arena, you may recall, got into a bit of a mess with investors back in 2010 when it failed to reveal that lorcaserin caused malignancies in rats given high doses. With the moment of truth again approaching, will investors be rewarded for their patience and faith? Um...we'll see. -KT
VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS) Weight-Loss Drug Qnexa Gets Three-Month Delay for FDA Review
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Astellas Pharma Inc. (YPH.BE) Wins FDA Panel Backing for Overactive Bladder Drug
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AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AMAG) Gets Initial EU Nod, Potentially Bagging a $30 Million Milestone Payment From Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (TKDG.DE)
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Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (WPI) Launches Generic FORTAMET(R)
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Genzyme Corporation (GENZ) Submits Drug for Rare Cholesterol Disorder to FDA
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More Rockville Files News

Karl Thiel is an analyst for The Motley Fool, a columnist for BioWorld Today, and a contributor to Nature Biotechnology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

You may contact Karl Thiel at Karl.thiel@biospace.com.

BioSpace, Inc.
6465 South Greenwood Plaza, Suite 400
Centennial, Colorado 80111 U.S.A.
Phone: 877-277-7585
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BioSpace, Inc.
90 New Montgomery Street, Suite 414
San Francisco, California 94105 U.S.A.
Phone: 877-277-7585
Fax: 415-576-9217



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