Global Pharma Briefs: News from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, BMS, and Takeda

By Miranda Greenberg -

September 2, 2021

A roundup of news from Africa (BioNTech), Canada (Genevant, Takeda), Germany (BMS, Evotec) India (Cipla, Kemwell) and the US (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Thermo Fisher and others).

Africa

BioNTech To Establish mRNA Vaccine Mfg in Africa
BioNTech, a Mainz, Germany-based immunotherapy company, has agreed to establish vaccine manufacturing in Rwanda and Senegal to support vaccine supply for the member states of the African Union.

Following the invitation of the kENUP Foundation, a non-profit public-benefit foundation supporting research-based innovation in health industries, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Macky Sall of Senegal, and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission met Uğur Şahin, CEO and Co-Founder of BioNTech in Berlin to discuss the development of vaccine production for Africa. The meeting resulted in a joint communiqué affirming BioNTech’s intention to manufacture mRNA vaccines arising from its malaria and tuberculosis vaccine-development programs in Africa.

The decision to evaluate manufacturing services in Rwanda and Senegal follows the guidance of the African Union, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the African Medical Agency under formation. The prospective locations of the manufacturing sites are expected to co-locate with the World Health Organization’s upcoming vaccine hubs. These efforts will be aligned with the Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and medical technologies led by the European Commission in collaboration with the EU member states.

Source: BioNTech


Canada

Genevant, Takeda in $303-M Nonviral Gene-Therapy Pact
Genevant Sciences, a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based bio/pharmaceutical company has entered into a global collaboration and license agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical for the development and commercialization of nonviral gene therapies to treat up to two undisclosed rare liver diseases, in a $303-million deal.

This is the second collaboration between Genevant and Takeda, following an earlier 2021 agreement to develop nucleic acid therapeutics directed to specified targets in hepatic stellate cells to treat liver fibrosis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Genevant is eligible to receive up to $303 million in upfront and potential milestone payments, plus royalties on future product sales. Takeda has exclusive rights to use Genevant’s lipid nanoparticle technology in the development and commercialization of specified nonviral gene therapies for up to two undisclosed rare liver diseases.

Source: Genevant


Germany

BMS, Evotec in $270-M Pact for Neurodegeneration
Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Evotec, a Hamburg, Germany-based drug-discovery and development company, have entered into an exclusive global license for Evotec’s EVT8683, part of the companies’ broader neurodegeneration collaboration, in a deal worth up to $270 million ($20 million upfront and up to $250 million in milestone payments).

EVT8683 is a small molecule targeting a cellular stress response that holds promise in various neurodegenerative indications and is ready to enter clinical development. The program originates from a phenotypic screen conducted by Evotec using its induced pluripotent stem cell drug-discovery platform.

Under an option agreement with BMS’s Celgene, BMS has rights to additional programs in neurodegenerative diseases. Through this opt-in, BMS will lead further development and commercialization. Evotec will receive an option payment of $20 million and is eligible to earn up to $250 million in milestone payments and up to low double-digit royalties.

Source: Evotec


India

Cipla, Kemwell Biopharma Form Biosimilars JV
Cipla, a Mumbai, India-based bio/pharmaceutical company and Kemwell, a Bengaluru, India-based CDMO, have announced execution of a joint venture agreement to develop, manufacture and commercialize biosimilars.

Source: Cipla


US

AstraZeneca, Thermo Fisher in Pact for Companion Diagnostics
AstraZeneca and Thermo Fisher Scientific's clinical sequencing business have entered into a pact to co-develop companion diagnostics to support AstraZeneca's portfolio of targeted therapies. More than 90% of AstraZeneca's clinical pipeline are targeted precision medicine therapies. The companies will collaborate under a multiyear, global agreement.

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific


Pfizer Appoints New Chief Business Innovation Officer
Pfizer has announced that Aamir Malik, formerly Managing Director with McKinsey & Company, has joined the company as Executive Vice President and Chief Business Innovation Officer. Mr. Malik began his role on August 30, 2021.

Mr. Malik will be a member of Pfizer’s Executive Leadership Team reporting to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla and will oversee the company’s strategy, business development, portfolio management, pipeline prioritization, and formation of new business ventures, as well as the advancement of access partnerships with payers and governments.  

Mr. Malik succeeds John Young, Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, who recently announced his intent to retire after a 34-year career at Pfizer.

Source: Pfizer


USAntibiotics Reopens Antibiotic Mfg Facility
USAntibiotics, a licensed US maker of penicillin-based antibiotics, amoxicillin and amoxil alavulanate, has reopened its Bristol, Tennessee manufacturing facility, which had ceased operations last year (2020).

When the 360,000-square foot facility comes on line, it will have the capacity to produce 300 million capsules and two billion tablets annually and can manufacture and stockpile a five-year supply of amoxicillin for the US. 

Source: USAntibiotics


Umoja Biopharma Breaks Ground on CAR-T Cancer Drug Mfg Facility
Umoja Biopharma, a Seattle, Washington-based bio/pharmaceutical developing cancer immunotherapies, has broken ground on a new development and manufacturing facility in Louisville, Colorado.

The 146,000-square-foot facility will house labs, offices, and manufacturing space for lentiviral vector production, with the first manufacturing run of clinical material expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2023.

Source: Umoja Biopharma