EuroBiotech Report: Woodford’s woes, Gilead-Genmab, Allergan-Richter and no-go IPO


Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. The summer months have brought no respite to the British biotech sector. With Brexit still casting a long shadow over the industry, Neil Woodford unveiled a bad set of figures for his biotech-heavy fund and Motif Bio hit pause on its Nasdaq IPO plans. Gedeon Richter has some inkling of what the companies are going through. The Hungarian drug developer posted negative Phase III data on its Allergan-partnered depression drug, marking another setback in the turbulent history of the program. Genmab committed to a further escalation of its R&D spending, setting the company up to hustle a clutch of cancer programs into the clinic over the coming 18 months. And the Danish drugmaker then rounded out the week by unveiling a deal with Gilead. The Big Biotech will use Genmab’s bispecific platform for a HIV program. And more. Nick Taylor

1. Crashes at Circassia, Northwest Bio drive double-digit drop at Woodford’s fund

The net asset value of Neil Woodford’s Patient Capital Trust fell 10.8% over the first 6 months of the year as Circassia’s (LON:CIR) late-phase flop and the ongoing decline of Northwest Biotherapeutics ($NWBO) hit home. But Woodford is holding his nerve, trimming his position in relative safe havens such as AstraZeneca ($AZN) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to pump more money into early-stage firms.

2. Gilead bags Genmab tech to develop bispecific antibody against HIV

Gilead ($GILD) has struck a deal to access bispecific antibody technology from Genmab (CPH:GEN). The agreement gives Gilead an exclusive license to use the Danish drugmaker’s bispecific platform to create an HIV therapeutic, plus an option to take up another exclusive license on the technology.

3. Genmab ups R&D spending to accelerate early-stage cancer programs

Genmab (CPH:GEN) is looking to build on the success of its Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ)-partnered drug Darzalex by upping its R&D spending. The plan is to increase operating expenses by 40% or more this year to position a CD3-CD20 bispecific antibody and a clutch of other early-stage programs to barrel into the clinic over the next 18 months.

4. Allergan and Richter push ahead despite PhIII fail for depression drug

Allergan ($AGN) and Gedeon Richter (BUX:RICHTER) have reported negative data from a Phase III trial of cariprazine in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The data continue the turbulent history of cariprazine, which was originally rejected by the FDA in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder before later winning over the regulator.

5. Motif Bio hits pause on Nasdaq IPO, sinking stock price in London

Motif Bio (LON:MTFB) is the latest biotech to have its Nasdaq IPO hopes crushed by an unreceptive market. The late-phase antibiotic player aimed to secure $26 million (€23 million) from new investors and $9 million from an existing backer, but this relatively modest ambition has proven to be beyond its reach.

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