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Morning brief: Roche raises outlook for 2018, ASCO abstracts revealed and more

A rapid round up of pharma, biotech and healthcare news

RocheRoche raises its outlook for 2018

The Swiss pharma giant has been bracing for the impact of biosimilars in the first three months of 2018, but better than expected sales growth in its pharma and diagnostics division - 7% and 5% respectively - has lifted the company. MS drug Ocrevus and breast cancer treatment Perjeta were the main drivers in its pharma division.

Roche has now raised its outlook for 2018 from low to single digits revenue growth, and this will give it more time for new product growth before the biosimilars strip sales from blockbusters Avastin, Herceptin and Mabthera/Rituxan.

There are lots more Q1 results today: in addition to Roche, we have AbbVie, AstraZeneca, BMS, Celgene, and Vertex. Most closely watched will be Celgene - once the darling of biotech investors - the company has had a tumultuous start to 2018, with an FDA rejection of a key filing, disappointing results from its full year results, and ongoing doubts about its in-licensing and strategy for growth.

ASCO 2018 abstracts unleashed

Today also sees the now traditional deluge of abstracts released for the ASCO congress, the most important date in the sector’s oncology calendar.  The meeting itself takes place from 1-5 June, but investors and analysts will scour abstracts for signals of what to expect in Chicago. One of the first companies out of the gate is Incyte - which needs to reassure investors it can salvage lead candidate epacadostat, which recently flopped in a combination trial with Keytruda.

Takeda and Shire now look set to agree a $64bn deal after a month’s worth of pursuit, and no fewer than five separate bids - although the terms make it much closer to a merger than a takeover, as Shire’s shareholders will take on a 50% stake in the new entity.

The $64bn sum makes the deal the biggest pharma M&A transaction since Actavis bought Allergan in 2015 for $70.5bn. That merger ill-fated, and seen as a high watermark in highly leveraged pharma deal-making with shaky business rationale; some investors fear Takeda’s gambit has a little too much in common with this deal.

UK news

Life Science Strategy branded ‘incoherent and wholly inadequate’

UKIt was meant to compensate for Brexit and show that Theresa May’s government could put together a package of measures which would make the UK an undisputed leader in pharma, biotech and medical devices - but the UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy has been given a hammering by the Lords’ Science and Technology Committee.

The Committee, chaired by Lord Patel, is known for challenging government orthodoxy on science and the NHS, and says it has uncovered “complicated arrangements for the strategy’s implementation and a lack of clear authority and accountability”. It says this raises questions about the Government’s commitment to implementing the Strategy.

The Committee recommends there should be a single body with complete oversight of its implementation called the Life Sciences Governing Body.

It says the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary - Greg Clark - and the Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt must ensure the organisation has the cross-Government backing it needs to do its work.

In the course of its evidence gathering, the committee spoke to numerous UK pharma leaders, including Pfizer UK’s Eric Nordkamp, MSD’s Louise Houson and J&J’s Mark Hicken - who all expressed their support of an holistic strategy - but also voiced concerns about the strategy lacking real authority and power to co-ordinate many disparate Government organisations and agencies.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Patel, said: “If implemented correctly the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy will make a major contribution to the future economic prosperity of the UK but what became clear throughout our inquiry is that it stands little chance of success without a detailed plan for implementation and clear lines of authority, responsibility and accountability.”

He said the Government needed to take bold steps, “more vital as the UK prepares for life outside the European Union”.

More on this and other UK themes live from today’s ABPI conference via Twitter @awmcconaghie

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

26th April 2018

From: Research, Sales, Regulatory, Healthcare

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