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Daily Brief: Dementia Fund hits $350m mark, hard Brexit could cost £100bn in trade and troublesome results for Pfizer’s Ibrance

The latest news from across pharma, biotech and healthcare

brainDementia consortium hits $350m target, appoints ex-Celgene exec as leader

A global consortium aimed at taking a biotech venture capital style approach to Alzheimer’s research has just received a funding boost, and has a new ex-pharma industry chief executive.

The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) confirmed yesterday that it had raised £250m ($350m), boosted by a $60m investment from US non-profit organisation AARP, which aims to help older people live healthier lives.

The fundraising far exceeded its initial target of $200m (£130m), boosting hopes that this venture fund focused entirely on discovering and developing novel therapies for dementia, including Alzheimer’s, could eventually discover a breakthrough where so many other individual companies have failed.

The DDF makes early stage venture capital investments to develop novel disease-modifying therapeutics and is managed by SV Health. It was formed through the collaboration of leading pharma companies - Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda -, the UK Department of Health and Social Care and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).

The DDF has also just unveiled Angus Grant as its new CEO. Grant is a senior pharma executive with more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, most recently serving as Corporate Vice President, Business Development at Celgene.


Brexit'Disorderly' Brexit could cost UK £100bn in trade

Corporate giants are urging the UK to opt for a soft Brexit or risk putting more than £100bn worth of trade on the line.

Business leaders from the US, Canada, Japan and India issued a joint statement yesterday, which said that international businesses who are “heavily invested” in both the EU and the UK are calling for quick progress on the "key outstanding issues remaining on the talks”.

Becoming more “urgent by the day”, Brexit needs to be resolved as soon as possible, the statement highlighted, but it did note the complexity of the issue.

The American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, which represents big-named companies including Boeing, Exxon Mobile, Facebook, Dell, Coca-Cola and FedEx - plus all the big US pharma companies including Pfizer, MSD, Amgen and AbbVie- signed the statement along with reps from the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business, the Europe India Chamber of Commerce and the Japan Business Council in Europe.

The statement was released ahead of the European council summit this week, and follows Airbus “inappropriately” – according to health secretary Jeremy Hunt – announcing it would move its business elsewhere if a hard Brexit occurred.

In the meantime, the business leaders encouraged policymakers to “dedicate time and thought at the upcoming summit to address the remaining issues”, such as the role of the European Court of Justice and the future of the UK and EU regulatory regime. The latter is of paramount importance to the UK pharma sector, which doesn't want to leave the EMA regulatory area.

Read more from The Guardian here.


PfizerPfizer’s Ibrance takes shock blow

Pfizer was hit by a major surprise yesterday after its breast cancer drug Ibrance failed to help patients live longer in a new study.

The drug was initially approved two years ago for use by the FDA for breast cancer patients whose disease had progressed after endocrine therapy, and since then has soared to blockbuster status.

However, just weeks after Novartis released promising progressive-free survival data for its Kisqali combo, Pfizer saw its drug flop on the harder overall survival (OS) endpoint.

Playing down the results, the company said the drug “narrowly” missed the threshold for statisical significance but “demonstrated a positive trend in the hazard ratio favouring the Ibrance combination”.

The pharma giant also pointed out the “high bar” set for this patient population, as well as Ibrance’s success in the breast cancer area.

Nicholas Turner, the study’s lead investigator, said: “The duration of the survival in hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer patients, and the potential for subsequent therapies to confound overall survival outcomes, make demonstrating statistically significant improvement in overall survival extremely difficult.”

Read more here.

Article by
Gemma Jones

26th June 2018

From: Research, Sales, Regulatory

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