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In 2019, we prepared a sample briefing on Novartis as if they were a client (don’t worry, they’re not; our clients are kept confidential). The sample represents our unique approach and the ensuing results: an executive-ready distillation of the most-important competitive and market intelligence.

Bulletin Intelligence on

Novartis Corporation

This sample briefing, produced by Cision's Bulletin Intelligence, is focused on Novartis Corporation (which is not a client), and is being shared for a limited time to select leaders in the industry.

Leading the News

Novartis, Oxford Researchers Partner For Big Data R&D Push.

Endpoints News (1/17) reports that since Vas Narasimhan became Novartis CEO, “he has championed data science and digital technologies as a key priority at the pharma giant.” Specifically, the “drugmaker has two projects in mind to kick off the 5-year research alliance with the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford.” The first “will focus on multiple sclerosis, leveraging clinical and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, data of 35,000-plus patients in hopes of understanding patterns and disease progression.” For the second project, “Novartis wants the BDI to deploy its deep learning algorithm across different datasets – imaging, proteomic, genomic, clinical – from more than 11,000 patients who have taken its interleukin-17 inhibitor, Cosentyx.”

Fierce Biotech (1/18, Taylor) quotes Novartis UK Chief Scientific Officer, Mark Toms, as saying, “These technologies have the ability to spot disease patterns and signals much earlier in their manifestation. ... The ability to spot patterns within diseases, and detect commonalities across different diseases, may predict how patients will respond to new and existing medicines earlier than is currently possible.” Over the long term, Toms believes the program will “be transformative for how Novartis clinical trials are designed and conducted” and could potentially reveal “new opportunities and targets” for drug development.

Taking a similar line, Pharmaphorum (UK) (1/18) portrays the move as of a piece with Novartis’ digital transformation, a “priority” for Narasimhan. It quotes Toms as saying, “This partnership with the BDI is aligned with the UK’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and offers the opportunity to expand our understanding and capabilities in data science at scale. As a leading medicines company driven by data and digital, Novartis expects the collaboration with the BDI to enhance its capabilities in data science and analytics.”

BioCentury (1/17) explains that digital health “is becoming a core element of pharma strategies, including Novartis’, as a means to improve the performance and uptake of medicines, and develop first-in-class or best-in-class molecules.” Novartis sees digital health “as the application of digital technology to any aspect of the pharma’s business model, which encompasses data science tools to mine clinical trial results, sensors that can track patient outcomes in clinical trials or the real world, and digital tools to enhance manufacturing quality and speed.”

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The partners have ambitions to change how large datasets are merged and analyzed with a view to deriving insights that improve drug development and patient care:…
3:34 AM - 18 January 2019

Novartis In the News

Sandoz Launches Prefilled Epinephrine Syringe.

Fierce Pharma (1/17, Liu) reports Adamis Pharmaceuticals and Novartis’ Sandoz have launched “Symjepi, a prefilled epinephrine syringe meant for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions” in the US. The companies have priced Symjepi “at $250, lower than the $300 price of Mylan’s authorized generic EpiPen and Teva’s generic version.”

The Pharma Letter (1/17) quotes US Sandoz President Carol Lynch as saying, “The Symjepi device is small in size and fits into the palm of your hand, with the goal of a simple-to-use application and intuitive, user-friendly design. At Sandoz, we strive to reimagine medicine to offer the best care we can in all we do, and having heard from patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals about their eagerness for a new product, we are proud to be a part of the solution to a critical need in the US.” Among other media reporting are Mass Device (1/17, Faulkner), BioSpectrum (1/18), and Drug Delivery Business News (1/17, Faulkner).

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Sandoz launches PFS alternative to epinephrine auto-injector #meddevice
10:48 AM - 17 January 2019

Proteus Digital Health Unveils “Digital Pill” For Chemotherapy (Novartis Mention).

STAT (1/17, Robbins) reports Proteus Digital Health announced a new “digital pill” for chemotherapy that is “packaged with a sensor that can alert a physician, pharmacist, or caregiver after it has been swallowed.” The company said that seven patients with colorectal cancer have been given the treatment since September. The goal, according to STAT, is to improve adherence and health outcomes. Business Insider (1/17) has a similar report, noting that Proteus “has raised $487 million with backing from big name investors like Novartis.”

Handelsblatt Analysis Of Pharma Industry Trends Mentions Novartis Avexis Deal.

In a German-language analysis, Handelsblatt (DEU) (1/17) says that the boom in pharma R&D is only boosting large drugmakers by a moderate amount as they struggle with patent expiration and regulatory risks. A related trend is that of the roughly 200 new treatments in the past five years, roughly a third came from large pharma companies with the rest being developed by smaller specialists and biotech companies. This helps explain the heavy interest in deal-making. As an example, it mentions Novartis’ acquisition of gene therapy specialist Avexis last year.

Drugmakers In UK Among Companies Stockpilling For Uncertain Brexit (Novartis Mention).

Bloomberg News (1/17) highlights how UK companies are “stockpiling” in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. The government “has ramped up its own no-deal planning and has urged supermarkets and drugmakers to stockpile.” Already, in the pharma sector, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, and Novartis “are also boosting supplies.”

Novartis’s Digital Officer Move Noted In Trend Piece.

Under the headline “7 Biopharma Trends To Watch In 2019,” BioPharma Dive (1/17) names the rise of the “pharma chief digital officer” as a top trend for the year. Last October, Merck “appointed a former Nike executive as the company’s chief information and digital officer, expanding the role and elevating it for the first time to rank on the executive committee.” The previous year, GSK, Novartis, and Eli Lilly “all added similar positions to their respective executive committees, signaling a growing emphasis pharma on upgrading digital infrastructure.”

Closing Stock Prices For Novartis And Select Competitors On Jan 17.

Symbol Close 90 Day Trend
NVS 88.63 + 0.68
+ 1.44
AZN 36.29 + 0.50
- 2.92
BMY 49.60 + 0.47
- 4.28
CELG 86.59 - 0.71
+ 4.18
GILD 68.65 + 1.01
- 4.01
GSK 38.98 + 0.57
- 1.40
MRK 75.60 + 0.99
+ 3.75
PFE 42.47 + 0.36
- 1.69

Competitive Intelligence

Eli Lilly Rushed Loxo Acquisition Through To Make Big Splash At JPM19.

BioPharma Dive (1/17) reports that Eli Lilly “pushed for a speedy acquisition of Loxo Oncology so it could announce the deal at this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, a document filed Thursday by Loxo with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed.” Merger discussions “began and concluded in about a two-week window.” Lilly “initially offered $230 per share on Dec. 20, but Loxo’s board of directors determined that price point was too low.” The deal was made public “on the conference’s opening day of Jan. 7,” with Lilly “paying $235 per Loxo share for a total valuation of $8 billion.”

Axios (1/17, Herman) reports that “both sides in this $8 billion deal moved extraordinarily quickly in part to make a big splash at the health care industry’s signature event.” Loxo “did not pursue any other offers, and Eli Lilly only revised its offer once.” Loxo’s Board of Directors “said Eli Lilly’s deal outweighed ‘the risks of outreach to third parties,’ according to the filing.”

Endpoints News (1/17) similarly reports that Lilly executives “were in a rush when they sat down with Loxo CEO Josh Bilenker 5 days ahead of last Christmas. They wanted to buy his company and were prepared to pay $230 a share. But it had to be done now; CEO Dave Ricks wanted to announce the buyout on the morning of January 7, just as the annual JPMorgan confab got underway.”

STAT (1/17, Herper) outlines the steps between Loxo reaching out to 15 companies last April and Lilly’s agreement to purchase the company this month. Coverage is also provided by Business Insider (1/17).

Other Precision Medicine Drug Names Could Be Ripe For M&A. Under the headline “Lilly-Loxo Deal Puts Precision Medicine Biotechs Up For Grabs,” Investor’s Business Daily (1/17, Gatlin) reports that Leerink analyst Andrew Berens has said that “other oncology names could also find themselves” in the M&A crosshairs. Indeed, continues IBD, two companies operating in Loxo’s space, Blueprint Medicines (BPMC) and Deciphera (DCPH), rose 14% and 13%, respectively, on the day Lilly-Loxo was announced. Berens “sees ‘the most direct read-through’ from Lilly’s deal to Blueprint. Blueprint has similar late-stage precision medicine efforts in oncology, including a drug that targets mistakes in the RET gene. Deciphera and Blueprint are also aiming at cancer-causing mistakes in sister genes known as KIT and PDGFRA.”

Analysis: Roche’s Licensing Deal With Adaptive Could Lead To Customized Cancer Treatments.

Max Nisen writes at Bloomberg View (1/17) that the focus on Bristol-Myers’ $74 billion acquisition of Celgene has distracted analysts’ attention from Roche’s “licensing arrangement with closely held Adaptive Biotechnologies” that “offers a path to groundbreaking customized treatments.” The two companies hope to “figure out the unique qualities of an individual patient’s cancer and immune system, and build them a custom-designed medicine from their own immune cells.” If it were to succeed, “it could shift Roche’s fortunes and the direction of cancer research.”

Researchers Preparing To Start Phase 1 Trial Evaluating Molmed’s CAR-T Therapy In Blood Cancer.

La Repubblica (ITA) (1/16) discusses in an Italian-language article efforts underway to soon launch a phase 1 clinical trial in the EURE-CART project evaluating Molmed’s CAR-T therapy, which targets CD44v6 in multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia.

Forma Therapeutics Cutting Discovery Biology Team As Part Of Reorganization.

Endpoints News (1/17) reports staffers at Forma Therapeutics says “that 25 people in discovery biology got the ax, with execs attributing the cuts to issues involving their pact with Celgene.” CEO Steve Tregay “confirmed that there have been cuts, adding that they are part of a broader reorganization that is claiming 61 jobs at the company.”

Spectrum To Sell Some Drug Assets, Cut Staff.

BioPharma Dive (1/17) reports that Henderson, Nevada-based Spectrum Pharma announced Thursday it will “sell seven hematology and oncology therapies to Acrotech Biopharma, a unit of the Indian drugmaker Aurobindo, for $160 million.” Spectrum will additionally “cut its workforce by about 40%, with most of that staff moving over to Acrotech.” Spectrum said the cash and liquidity it derives from the sale and job cuts “will help the biotech focus on its Rolontis and poziotinib cancer therapies.”

According to Spectrum CEO Joe Turgeon, reports Fierce Pharma (1/17), “the selloff is a strategic shift ‘to ensure laser-focus’ on novel oncology drugs, and the cash is placing Spectrum ‘in a solid position to evaluate additional growth opportunities.’” The company “just recently strengthened its development force, having poached Ziopharma Oncology’s executive vice president of R&D, Francois Lebel, M.D., as its chief medical officer.”

Zafgen Reports Success In Mid-stage Trial Of Diabetes Drug.

The Boston (MA) Business Journal (1/17) reports that Zafgen Inc. has announced “that its lead program, ZGN-1061, met its primary endpoints in an early readout” in a Phase 2 trial to treat type 2 diabetes. Zafgen “said there were no cardiovascular safety concerns and no elevated levels of protein found in blood clots during” the trial. The drug “was linked to a blood glucose level reduction that Zafgen’s chief medical officer said in the statement places it in competition” with “current diabetes therapies.” News of the trial success, however, “seemed to do little to assuage investors in light of the fact that the drug remains on hold due to cardiovascular concerns” – shares in the company fell “more than 1 percent as of 3 p.m. Thursday, reaching $4.66 to give the company a market cap of $172 million.”

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