BioSpace BioPharm Exec
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Firing Slows, but Lilly Fans the Flames

Could pharma layoffs finally be slowing down? That's what new data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas seems to suggest, with just 830 industry job losses recorded in June. That's a steep decline from the pace of prior months, which saw 34,987 pharmaceutical industry job losses year to date, or an average of 5,831 a month. Also encouraging is that the June figure continues a trend that goes back at least to April, when just 1,049 jobs, also well below the running average, were shed. In contrast, overall job losses across industries have actually ticked up slightly in the past couple months. (Hat tip to Phamalot for linking these stats.)

Of course, it will take more than two or three months to establish a meaningful trend, and as noted below, many pharma companies have announced planned layoffs that they haven't yet executed, so the bleeding is not going to end anytime soon. But it's certainly encouraging to see the numbers going down. More...

More By Karl Thiel

Gilead Sciences has had a rough year, having seen its stock dwindle to a three-plus year low over worries about pipeline and patent expiries. Unfortunately, its latest clinical news probably won't do much to change that. But that takes nothing away from the public health importance of a vaginal gel tested in Africa that appears to cut the risk of HIV transmission in half--a huge development in the battle against AIDS on that continent. Far more important to the bottom line, Gilead's experimental "Btripla" combination HIV drug appears to be holding up in the clinic so far.
-KT

Toxicology Sinks Vernalis PLC (VNLPY.PK), Biogen Idec, Inc. (Massachusetts) (BIIB)'s Parkinson's Drug
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Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Halts Tanezumab Studies For Back Pain, Diabetes
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Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Release: Vaginal Gel Cuts HIV Infections While Blocking Herpes
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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) And XenoPort, Inc. (XNPT) Migraine Drug Fails Mid-stage Trial: No Improvement For GSK1838262/XP13512 Vs Placebo
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Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd Announces TMC278 Pivotal Phase 3 Clinical Trials Achieve Primary Objective
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More Bench To Clinic News
Ever since Billy Tauzin left as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), industry followers have been wondering what kind of leadership the industry organization would choose. What is PhRMA hoping to accomplish, and what will its new public face stand for? Now we know: John Castellani doesn't have Tauzin's political experience, and has no specific background in the pharma industry, but he does have something many PhRMA members felt Tauzin lacked: The experience and perspective of a chief executive. While he will smooth ruffled feathers among the membership, the real test will be how he engages with the zoo on Capitol Hill.
-KT

PhRMA Lobby Names Corporate Heavyweight John Castellani As Chief
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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Reorganizes Plant Tied to Recall, Cuts 300 Jobs
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Sanofi-Aventis (France) (SASY.PA) Reorganization Hits Hundreds Of Jobs
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Sanofi-Aventis (France) (SASY.PA) Plans $65 Million Expansion; Will Create 300 Jobs in Cambridge
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New Irish Global Pharmaceutical Center Could Create 4,800 Jobs
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More Career Track News
After Vivus got voted down by an FDA panel on its obesity drug (see Rockville Files), shares of Arena and Orexigen--both companies with rival meds--rallied. (Although it's not clear to me that investors in these companies should be cheered that an FDA panel wasn't willing to accept as safe a drug made of two active ingredients that have already been on the market for years when even the agency's reviewers seemed to feel the data showed acceptable safety). In any case, Arena cashed in some of the value of its drug in a U.S. marketing deal with Esai, including a $50 million upfront payment. If only they'd waited until after Vivus' failure to seal the deal, they might have pumped up that figure a little.

And what's sexier than a mystery deal? A report from Bloomberg said that Sanofi-Aventis is planning a $20 billion acquisition of...ummm... something in the U.S. But what could it be? Nope, nothing too surprising--turns out it's Genzyme, and Genzyme isn't playing ball thus far.
-KT

Mylan Inc. (MYL) To Buy Bioniche Pharma USA LLC For $550 Mln
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Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. (INFI) and Intellikine, Inc. Enter Agreement to Develop Oral Therapies Targeting PI3 Kinase Delta, Gamma; Intellikine To Receive $13.5 Million Initially In Deal Valued Up to $488 Million
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Sanofi-Aventis (France) (SASY.PA), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Eyes Troubled Genzyme Corporation (GENZ); Genzyme Rebuffs Sanofi Bid
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Sanofi-Aventis (France) (SASY.PA), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Eyes Troubled Genzyme Corporation (GENZ); Genzyme Rebuffs Sanofi Bid
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Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ARNA) Picks Japan's Eisai Inc. (ESALF.PK) To Market Obesity Drug Lorcaserin In Deal Worth $1.3 Billion Potentially
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More Golden Handshakes News

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Pacific Biosciences, the company that has claimed it will sequence an individual's entire genome in 15 minutes for under $1000 by 2013, has pulled in another huge venture round--its series F (that's more than you can count on one hand). This round is aimed at ramping up for commercial production, so an IPO may not be too far away.

Yet the latest IPO filing in the healthcare space is not for a biotech company but, once again, for an information company. Epocrates supplies mobile reference tools to physicians and is taking a second swing at the IPO market after withdrawing its original filing in 2008.
-KT

Pacific Biosciences Announces $109 Million Financing
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Epocrates Inc. Files for $75 Million IPO
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Trevena, Inc. Secures $35 Million in Series B Funding to Progress Portfolio of GPCR Biased Ligands and to Complete Phase 2 Study of TRV120027 for Acute Heart Failure
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iPierian Inc. Closes $22 Million Series B Financing Led By Google Ventures
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Calithera Biosciences Closes $40 Million in Series A Financing
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More Money Talk News

After much controversy, it looks like GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia will remain on the market...with new, stricter labeling. But that doesn't mean the company's troubles are over. Enrollment in the head-to-head TIDE trial comparing Avandia and Takeda's Actos has been halted while FDA mulls its final decision. It remains unclear how new labeling will affect sales, but they are certain to decline. And the company has taken a $2.4 billion charge to cover settlements on litigation concerning the diabetes drug, as well as issues concerning Paxil, and its Cidra manufacturing in Puerto Rico.
-KT

Elan Corporation PLC (ELN) To Settle Zonegran Investigation For $204M
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Novartis AG Reaches $175 Million Gender Bias Settlement
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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) To Take $2.4 Billion Charge To Cover Avandia Cases, Other Legal Woes
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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Gets Federal Subpoena Over Recalls
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Dendreon Corporation (DNDN) Down As Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Starts Provenge Analysis
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More Legal Briefs News
The controversy over Avandia dominated most of the industry headlines this month (see Legal Briefs), but there were other interesting FDA panel decisions made in the past month. One that offers a potentially clearer signpost of how FDA is using its regulatory powers was the 12-1 panel vote to strip Avastin of its breast cancer label. While that decision--assuming FDA backs it up--will probably have a limited impact on Avastin sales, it does show that FDA is serious about its accelerated approval powers. Avastin got the breat cancer label in 2008 with the understanding that further study would confirm the progression free survival seen in a limited study. It didn't, at least to the panel's satisfaction, and away goes the label.
-KT

US Panel Rejects Roche (RHHBY)'s Avastin for Breast Cancer
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FDA Panel Rejects VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS) Diet Drug
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Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MNTA) Announces FDA Approval for First Generic Lovenox(R); Shares Surge
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Amgen (AMGN) Gets Priority Review For Prolia
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FDA Panel Recommends Keeping GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)'s Avandia On US Market, But With More Warnings, Restrictions
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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.

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